Cancer is isolating…

I had typed up this long post, then deleted it. I’m all about truth on this blog. Real, raw, truth. But I felt like the post was too “woe is me” when I feel anything BUT that.

The gist of it was that I spent a lot of time during my cancer treatment alone. A lot of time. Brad had to work, he obviously couldn’t stay home with me all the time, so I was alone a lot when I was home sick. I was alone for several of my chemo treatments. I was alone a lot in the hospital, too.

It was what it was.

So in short (very short), when you go through something like this, you find out who your friends are, and I am extremely grateful for the ones I have.

Hello there 👋🏻

I apologize for the lack of posts here lately. It’s partially because I don’t have much to say, and partially because I have been insanely busy. My classes began earlier this month and work has been keeping me busy, particularly from having to play catch up from the hurricane that never came.

Today is October 1st. Wow! I can’t believe it’s October. I feel like I say that at the beginning of every month, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Time flies. It’s my niece’s birthday. Happy b-day, Ev.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple ideas for some posts so I’ll try to spread them out over the next couple weeks since my next medical update won’t be until October 15th, since that’s my appointment with Dr JB and Dr H to talk surgery and stuff. I’ll have drains again…did I mention that after my last appointment? Ugh. You all know how much I’m looking forward to that. Should only be for a week though. Knock on wood.

Couple random things: started my clean eating again; doing yoga because anything more intense is too much; and sort of participated in the Lowcountry Heart Walk on Saturday for my niece, G (“sort of” meaning we went and then they canceled it for the weather).

Thanks for sticking with me this far! I know I’m not quite as entertaining as I once was, and I think that’s a good thing because it means my life is less drama-filled. I’ll chat again soon!

Lowcountry Race for the Cure

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This is what the 2018 Team Rack Attack looked like. Just a handful of us who joined up together today to do the Susan G. Komen Lowcountry Race for the Cure.

It was my first event. I would have loved to have participated last year, but I was chemo sick so it just wasn’t in the cards. But it’s all good because I got to do it this year and fundraise for a cause I support – hope for a world without breast cancer.

Team Rack Attack did so well with donations that we earned a tent with breakfast and treats for being within the top five. There were some yummy breakfast burritos and biscuits from Triangle Char & Bar, Starbucks coffee, and cupcakes from Cupcake Down South. So amazing of those sponsors to do all that. I wasn’t expecting any rewards for raising money, so it was a very cool surprise. We got to decorate our special little tent space, and that was fun. (It’s still not too late to donate, you can click the “Race for the Cure” menu tab and follow the instructions.)

We pinked ourselves out and had a great time. I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings!

On a different note: I’m sick! I started feeling it on Wednesday last week – lots of sneezing and coughing up crud, also a sore throat. That stayed with me for the rest of the week until I woke up feeling horrible Friday. I managed okay today, but was exhausted. After the walk, I went home and napped, and when I woke up the sore throat and body aches were present. I’m hoping it’s just exhaustion from a super busy week, but I’m laying low and drinking tea the rest of tonight and tomorrow.

Storm Log: Day 4

Found the portable charger, right where I told Brad it was. 🙄 My dad went golfing. My mother made brownies. Brad and I are stir crazy. Will went out for a little bit for a change in scenery.

We have debris in the roadway.

And cloud cover.

Somewhere, people mowed their lawns. One of the neighborhood pools was also open.

May have made contact with a potential looter scoping out the neighborhood. Held up a sign that said “if you loot, we shoot.” (Not really, we don’t have a sign, but we will shoot.)

Watched Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy. So funny. Snacked on chips and salsa and cheese and crackers.

Today’s Soundtrack:

Bad Moon Rising – CCR

We Didn’t Start the Fire – BJ

Bohemian Rhapsody – Q

https://bstjennifer.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/img_5196.mov

The sky at 7:30pm. There was a misty sprinkle of rain while I was recording.

Storm Log: Day 3

I’m calling this day three because our minds went into storm mode on Tuesday, when our area was issued an evacuation order. Mine and Brad’s works both closed, and we’ve been together ever since.

Ever.

Since.

Tuesday.

Hurricane Florence will be Tropical Storm Florence by the time it comes our way. We’ll see some wind and rain and I’m sure trees will be down. This will probably start tomorrow night. I feel like we’ve been waiting forever since things started shutting down on Tuesday. I mean seriously, all the Walmarts shut down on Tuesday!! Publix, BJs, Lowe’s, and Home Depot are still open, but Lowe’s and Home Depot have their employees blocking the entrance of the store and asking you what you want before they let you inside. We turned around and left, even if you had what we wanted (we were looking for battery powered lanterns), we don’t want to have to say some magic words just to get in the door. Either you’re open or you’re not open. Get off your high horse. We hit a small business hardware store instead, Palmetto Home Store. Their staff were nice and helpful, not a power trip to be seen. BJs was even letting people shop regardless of their membership status because of the storm, so I don’t want to hear any excuses from the home improvement stores. A guy was buying a bathtub for Pete’s sakes. What the heck was that emergency??

We stocked up on snacks and margaritas. The margaritas are so I can tolerate Brad. We’ve been together for way more than what should be considered normal at this point. He’s got some kind of whiskey or something, that’s so he can tolerate me.

We were planning to evacuate. We had our eyes set on a hurrication to Florida. But the storm weakened overnight, so we decided to stay and save our money.

So I’m writing and Brad’s watching TV. I’m hoping power stays on, but I’ve got my Kindle and iPad locked and loaded just in case.

Coming at you live from my LAST treatment!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I’m done!

All is well on the doctor front. I saw all three of my docs today and everything is great. One more month to see the plastic surgeon before we schedule surgery. Also, it looks like I’ll have drains for the flap removal. Boo! And he’ll be straightening things up around the mid-section, so I’ll probably have a drain there, too. So it’ll be a slightly bigger recovery than originally planned, but it’s all good because it’s almost over!!

I’ll have more surgical info after that appointment, and I’ll share it then. Dr JB will also be there for that appointment so she’ll translate whatever Dr H says. Haha.

So good stuff here!! I’m healing and I don’t have to see my oncologist for three months. I asked him what I’m supposed to do now, and he said “live your life.” Haha, what does that even mean anymore?!?

I guess we’ll find out!!

It doesn’t have me…

I read something a while ago and I may have mentioned it here already, or I may not have.

I have cancer, cancer doesn’t have me.

It was one of the mantras that sort of pushed me through everything. Knowing that I was the one in charge, it helped.

This generalizes to other areas of life, you know? Other diseases, disorders, and disabilities. Those Ds are not what define us. We are what define us.

I recently heard someone use the word “autistic,” and I realized in that moment how much I hated that word. I’m sure I’ve used it myself at some point, we all probably have, but ughhhh I hate it.

Why do I feel so strongly about an adjective?

Because adjectives are descriptors. Adjectives are used to help paint a picture of something. My hair is brown. My dog is chubby. This guy is tall.

That boy is autistic.

What exactly are we saying about the boy? We’re using a word, a disability at that, to define him. I feel like calling him autistic is like saying that’s all there is to him.

Yes, for people with autism, it often does define so much of their life. So much of their family’s life, too. But it’s a disorder, and who wants to be described that way?

That boy has autism.

That sentence says the same thing, but I feel like it’s empowering. He has autism, autism doesn’t have him.

It’s probably safe to say that most people who know someone with autism hate the disorder but love the person. So why use that as a descriptor?

Sorry for the rambling, but it’s just something that came to me when I heard that person say that. Maybe it doesn’t make sense at all, maybe it does.

On a side note, for those of you who don’t know, I work as a behavior technician and provide ABA therapy to kids with autism, hence the reason I feel so strongly about it. I’m actually pursuing certification in behavior analysis so I can make a career out of helping these amazing kiddos.

Last infusion is tomorrow, folks! Woohoo!

F*ck Cancer

This is my super late post I made from the plane two weeks ago. Just got around to posting it. My bad!

I’m on a flight home from New York, typing this post into a Word document because I don’t feel like paying for the in-flight WiFi to connect to the blog. I’ll copy and paste it later. I was in New York for the wake and funeral for my Aunt Eleanor. She was diagnosed with cancer and we lost her quickly. I feel blessed that I was able to make the trip with my parents thanks to my sister’s frequent flyer miles.

It was nice seeing my family. I realized on this trip that it has been too damn long since I’ve seen any of them. And not just my family, but my friends, too.

I got to visit very briefly with my friend Melissa while I was there. She was so gracious to meet me at the hospital where I was visiting my other aunt and spend about fifteen minutes with me. I hadn’t seen her in twelve years. We’ve talked on Facebook and I tag her anytime I see anything that has to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer because that was our thing years ago. Anyway, when I last saw her, she was pregnant with her twelve-year-old daughter, who I got to meet today. It’s crazy.

I’m not really sure what the solution is because I’m not made of money and certainly can’t afford to fly to New York with any type of frequency, and taking off days from work to make the drive just isn’t realistic either.

Speaking of which. Huge shout-out to my job and the people I work with because they are amazing. I mentioned in our group chat that I was going to see if I could find a sub for my Friday shift because I had a death in the family and wanted to see if I could make it out-of-town for the services, and they rallied and texted me before I could even do anything with a solution. Pretty amazing. I mean, I’ve worked at places where there was literally no impact whatsoever if I didn’t show up for a shift and received more grief over taking time off. Just one of the many things I love about my job.

It was really great seeing family, though. I hated that it was because of a funeral, but it was what it was. Maybe the next time it will be because someone got married or had a baby, which was the reason for the last three times I saw my family, which still sucks, but again…it is what it is. My wedding and Kerry’s wedding in 2008, then Kerry’s baby shower in 2012. I might not be able to visit New York every year, but surely I can head up there again in less than six years.

So blah blah blah, cancer sucks. We all know this. It has taken the life of yet another loved one. A woman who I always remember was so incredibly full of life. Always laughing and smiling. A woman who I hadn’t realized helped me learn to swim. This is something that was revealed to me through an old family video shared by my cousin Debbie.

I hate it, and it’s moments like this, when I’m reflecting on someone else’s journey that didn’t end positively, that I realize how lucky I am to have gotten through my cancer. Not everyone is so lucky.

As a survivor, I feel like I need to do good things with my life. Make some kind of an impact. Big or small, I don’t know. Just something. One of the reason I’m doing the fundraiser for Susan B. Komen and why I will likely do more fundraisers in the future. I know I don’t owe anyone anything. I know that. I know I’m not responsible for anything. But losing people you love hurts, and if there’s just one thing I can do to help ease that suffering for someone else, why not do something?

So enough deep thoughts for now. Our trip was crazy, an absolute whirlwind. I’ve literally been on this plane for like 4 hours already and the flight is only like one and a half hours long. We sat on the tarmac for nearly three hours at LaGuardia. Bananas. But we’re almost home now…

One year!

It’s been a year since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and time has flown. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be chilling in bed reading a book in a year, I’d probably have laughed at you. I had no idea where I’d be in a year. Not that I thought I was going to die or anything, I just had no earthly clue what my life was going to look like.

So here I am, one year later. I kicked ass and took names. I met some new people along the way. I inspired people. It sounds weird and selfish to say that, but it’s true, which is even weirder.

So I’m going to go back to reading my book, hopefully dig up a snack here in a little while, and relax.

For those of you who have been reading from the beginning, thank you for your support. For those of you who have just begun, welcome to my brand of crazy. 💕

One month

Quick update because life is crazy.

Saw Dr H on Monday. GH is getting smaller, he said everything is looking good and wants to see me again in a month. So I’m slowly graduating to longer and longer gaps between visits, which is nice. It’s likely that at my next appointment, we’ll schedule the surgery. He didn’t say that, but I’m guessing that. He did say again that he wants to wait for the right nipple area to heal, and the skin is still working itself out over there. So hopefully in a month, that’ll be done and we can get moving.

I also saw Dr YB on Monday. All is good there as well. I got my infusion and my shot. Only one more infusion to go! Woohoo! So things are lining up nicely for me to have the port taken out when I have the flaps removed.

I’ve got a backlogged post that I need to put up. It’s something I wrote this past weekend on my whirlwind trip to NY. I didn’t pay for the WiFi on the plane, so I couldn’t post it then. I’ll get it up in the next couple days.

Overall, I feel good! Still having problems with my feet, but that’s the only place I’m sore. Incision and breast don’t hurt, still pretty numb in those places because of the nerves. I feel pretty “normal” though! So nothing to complain about here.

I’ve got a fighter friend who is having her flap DIEP mastectomy tomorrow! Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks! Best of luck to you, L!