Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Third times a charm

Hi All,

Okay well this is actually my third attempt at this blog entry and I am hopeful I will actually finish this one and be happy with it. I think the fact I can’t focus on completing one single entry is pretty indicative of my headspace at the moment. I am a basketcase! I have shifted from one blog focusing on the fact that with summer arriving also comes less clothing and I am suddenly finding myself surrounded by pairs of breasts everywhere. Breasts, breasts everywhere and not a pair to spare! I also wrestled with my newfound social awkwardness around meeting new people who don’t know my “story.” Suddenly the simple questions like how are you doing, what are you up, summer plans… are like bullets hitting me over and over. Do I lie, only answer with the least amount of words possible or do I drop the C bomb on the convo? And now today I have been mulling over the fact I can’t actually get away from the C word. It is like I have cancer goggles on. It is a front page story in the paper, a character on tv battling this awful illness, a conversation about someone affected by it. Even watching a mindless yet highly entertaining show like Gossip Girl was no escape as the characters in this week’s episode were planning the “Pink Ball.” The C swat team has me literally surrounded people! It is similar to the time I was pregnant. Suddenly I felt like everyone was pregnant around me and I had an internal alert system for bumps in my vicinity. I remember thinking how could I have missed noticing all these pregos before but I guess you don’t notice these things until you are experiencing it yourself. So instead of noticing moms to be I am noticing every sign of cancer around me. It is exhausting and at times I wish I could be like the horses in the park who walk around with blinders on. I guess with this heavy presence in our lives, it does show me that I am clearly not alone in this. It seems everyone I meet or speak to knows someone or has personally been through this. I figure if all these people can get through this and come out the other side then I will be okay. I am not the toughest person around and do get scared of things before they actually happen. Case in point trying to convince a nurse to give me gas to get through a blood test years ago! Fear is apparently a very normal and very real part of this process and it would be weird if I didn’t fear the road ahead. So I am embracing each and every emotion and storing them in my arsenal to fuel me through this time.

“Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow.”

Sleep tight!


Friday, April 15, 2011

And in this corner...Team OBB

Introducing Team OBB

So this blog topic came to me while I was at the hospital for a checkup post op this morning. Overcoming an illness like mine requires so many different medical specialists who work together to find the best possible treatment and outcome for you.And so every superhero must have a winning team behind them and here is Team OBB.

Walking onto the surgical floor of the Oncology building (or C-Town as I like to refer to it), I am greeted like an old friend by the nurses that I have come to know very well since I became of a resident C-Town. They hug me and ask about my recent wedding and also how my recovery is going. We laugh, joke and chat and it feels good. Even Dr Bad News comes by to see how I am doing. In case you couldn’t decipher my Morse code, Dr Bad News is the doctor who told me the news that rocked me to the core. They say that remembering the day you were told you had cancer becomes like the day JFK was assassinated. You never forget where you were, what you were wearing and the words you heard. I get strength from acting so normal in front of her now when she literally saw me break into a thousand pieces before her very eyes when I heard the news.

Following more jovial chit chat with my favorite nurse, who takes special care of me and I will call Flo after the most famous nurse in history, we check everything out and she reassures me that it all looks very good. One can understand my anxieties over post op recovery as the good luck fairy has clearly not been camping out in my corner these last few months. Thankfully Flo understands my OCD tendencies surrounding my health and has no problem answering my repeated phone calls or making time to see me numerous times this week just so that I don’t have to stress more. As we say our goodbyes, she looks me straight in the eyes and tells me that it is ok to not always be positive and that cancer is bad news. It is okay to be upset, angry or to cry and she wanted me to remember that. I guess being brave is tiring and sometimes even the most strongest and toughest superheroes need to stop, rest and maybe even have a good cry. Having such emotional honesty from my medical caregiver really makes me feel looked after. And I think that is when I realized that they all were more than just my nurses or doctors. Each person is part of my ascent up this big bloody mountain and I am lucky that I have such empathetic people fighting in my corner.

As I go towards the elevator, I hear the familiar voice of my dear Oncologist, who really has a lovely fatherly quality to him that I find so comforting. It was after all him who upon hearing me ask for a repeat prescription of Valium, smiled and said that the best prescription he could give was to cry when I felt bad. He told me that it was important to learn how to cope with the good and bad days and that crying was the best medicine. He puts his coffee down and gives me a big bear hug and tells me that I am young and strong and everything will be fine. He then gives me two more hugs before bidding me adieu.

As I walk out of C-Town, I really am starting to feel privileged to have so many wonderful people on Team OBB. Being faced with a serious illness is never good but it makes such a difference when you have caregivers who understand you are human and have emotions, responses, fears and hopes. And I like to think I make them hopeful too in my approach and attitude towards this obstacle in my life. I actually always make a special extra effort when I go to C-town to look my best with a little mascara, a spot of gloss or my cutest top. I may be ill but I still want to look my best regardless of the occasion! To quote a friend on this one, I don't do ugly!

So again I have a sense of calm while navigating these rough seas because I know that I have the best team skippering my boat towards a sense a peace.

Happy Easter and smooth sailing,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perspective is Everything

Perspective is Everything

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark

Ever since I joined the Big C-lub, I started to use quotes to let my family and friends know where my head was at. I also found them incredibly motivating in finding my inner warrior. So I wanted to open this blog with a quote that encapsulates my topic of the day – Perspective.

I have started to think of my life in three parts these days. Part 1 was pre C, Part 2 is C present and part 3 will be post C. What was really hard to come to terms with was that Part 1 seemingly overnight ceased to exist. It is true how people always say you don’t miss something until it is gone. I missed my normal and very ordinary life desperately. I didn’t want to join a new world where white blood counts, FEC, hair loss, cell grade and malignancy ruled the roost. I started to become envious of people and the banal parts of their lives. I would watch parents pick up their kids from school outside our house, or watch people heading out for drinks on a sunny Friday and be envious. I wanted to do all those normal things I had really taken for granted for all these years without the presence of this annoying cloud over my head. Suddenly nothing was routine or normal and my new little friend was always showing up to the party without an invite!

Now looking back to my 20s, I did have fun! I worked hard and lived a very material and at times deeply selfish existence. I thought the most important things in life were having a good job, plans for friday night, always being comfortable, having good friends and family and rarely having to choose between anything because this girl wanted EVERYTHING! Well if I can again look at the silver lining here, I have been given the rare opportunity of realising what is really important in life to me. It is really is life in itself. The act of living is a gift. The millions of tiny things I used to stress over like my crow’s feet, the grey hairs popping up along my hairline, not being on track career wise, having a better savings plan, or not going to the gym enough faded away. What do I cherish these days? Well it could be a day without pain, a kiss from my daughter, a backrub from my husband or a lovely card sent from a loved one just because. So I again feel lucky to have been given this magical lens from which I am able to look at life from such a different perspective. So I will go through things that really suck, and things that will make me look a little less like the girl you all know, however I will still be me. If not a slightly improved version!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A New Definition of Beauty

Hello there,

So I was told for the second time yesterday since my operation that I have a beautiful…face, no, outfit, no, daughter, well yes but no. I was told that I had a beautiful incision that would eventually form into a beautiful scar. I am apparently the beauty queen of post surgical incisions and scars! Bring on the tiara people! How did my parameters of what constitutes beautiful change so dramatically from the traditional to the downright morbid? I have a feeling my original definitions of what constitutes beauty will change significantly over the next year. Not only am I facing a very real anatomical change, I will also be rocking the Sinead look in a month or so. Unfortunately my genetics also failed me on the nose front having been born with a larger than life nose that makes me cringe in profile shots I blame the Hungarian side for this injustice! I can only imagine what it will look like without my lovely hair and eyebrows to distract from it. I joked that maybe I could barter a 2 for 1 surgery and they could throw in a rhinoplasty at the same time! I mean who says no to the cancer patients!! Well surgeons apparently do.

So as my reservation for the C spa fast approaches so does my impending hair loss which I will have to get used to and find the silver lining to. I mean think of the time saved on blow drying, straightening and the money saved on the gazillion hair products I own or pricey haircuts. Okay I am digging here on the benefits as I haven’t really gotten around to finding anything remotely good about it. But I will because that is just how I am. God I even hate myself sometimes for the cheesy lines I actually put down here.

I have always been a shopping girl and it nearly bankrupted me in my younger days. So why not start researching how to be chemo chic? I mean I have always made sure I looked the part, despite often not being able to execute it. Like the time I wanted to be pro snowboarder or a mountaineer! I actually never hit a jump or climbed K2 but boy did I have the gear to look like I did. So why not throw myself into the world of online shopping. I mean I will have a cue ball for a head shortly so why not dress it up. I was tempted to type in Chemo Chic into Google but instead opted for headgear for chemo patients. Well suddenly I was transported into another world of wraps, turbans, scarves, and hats. If this was one time I wished I wore a burka it was now. I just would not be having this problem now would I. Anyways some weren’t even that bad so I clicked buy on a few just to get the ball rolling on my chemo wardrobe. So maybe I could still find the fun side of this crappy situation and indulge in a little retail therapy at the same time! I may have cancer, but what girl doesn’t like dressing up. And I have heard the turban is totally it for Summer 2011.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Where to begin?

Well this is my second attempt to start a blog and i figure my subject matter might be alittle more shocking if not appealing then my first idea. Being a new mom is amazing but doesnt always appeal to everyone, i.e: people who arent new moms so I am taking a stab at it again and people be ready to be shocked.

So what is the source of my inspiration? It is a word that terrifies most people and sadly it is much too widespread these days. Yes I am talking about the big C. So my next challenge when thinking up this blog is how the hell do I keep this blog upbeat and funny despite the depressing subject matter? So therein lies my challenge which like kicking the big C's ass, I am fully up to. And that is also where my new nickname comes from. I doubt you can guess what is stands for but just think of me as the hip hop star of the cancer world. I mean those are the people typically rocking acronym names right? So my new alter ego is none other then the One Boobed Bandit. Yes people you can even have super heroes in the world of malignant cells! I always need to find humour in everything so this is my attempt here.

So I wont get into exhausting detail about the nitty gritty of it all because it isnt the most uplifting information for anyone to read. But I am young. Too young to be facing something like this. I think i scare some of my friends and our sense of immortality. Suddenly every ache and pain you feel could be it. It really could drive you insane obsessing over it. I was lucky if you can consider anyone with cancer lucky. I found mine by chance. Without this act of divine intervention I would have found out years down the line when things would have been decidedly more grim. So a month after sitting alone in a surgeon's office for a standard post op visit and hearing those words, I am the OBB and preparing for the next stage of my ascent to the top of the C Mountain. The C Spa or chemo for those who are more affectionately acquainted with it. So I hope I will be a wee more committed to this blog. If anything I have been given loads more free time to try and connect with the blog world and just maybe write something that makes someone smile, chuckle or even a shed a little tear. And I mean tear in the most upbeat, happy crying kind of way!

So I will sign off here as it is alot of information to digest for anyone. I will try to keep things light, funny and maybe at times abit sentimental. But never dark. If you cant laugh at something in some way (even if it slightly inappropriate!) then really what is the point?

And here is a quote for the day! I am obsessed with quotes. Thought this was appropriate and ironic as well!!

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
Dolly Parton