Apr 23

a small 2 week break, hopefully

I know, I am the worst cancer-blogger ever….. It turns out closing my business was more damaging to my psyche than cancer ever was. Not gonna lie, it’s not been pretty…. I even smashed a laptop with a hammer today, just for shits and giggles, because it felt like a good way to channel all my bitterness and anger. And it was a really crappy computer… Anyhow, I started my day at pre-op. I went to pre-op last year too, at the time, I described it as travelling back in time because the process was so analog and dated. Well, nothing has changed since last year, I still showed my medicare and hospital cards 10 times, though since it’s day-surgery this time I got to skip the pharmacist, the nurse and the ‘how will you pay for your private room?’ inquiry. The BEST part of today though is that I was given a 2-week break from Tamoxifen. Stop taking it one week before surgery (ie tomorrow) and resume 1 week after. Something about decreasing chances of blood clots… Whatever the reason, I’m very curious to see what happens to the hot flashes when I’m on a 2-week break. In non-cancer related business, now that I am unemployed, I am full-on working on the auction. If you have made anything or would like to donate anything, now is the time. Let me know so I can plan to list it. The upstairs bedroom as morphed into a warehouse again and I’ll be setting up my camera tomorrow to start listing all the AWESOME items we’ve accumulated. Also, I’m unemployed. So if you can think of anything you’d like to hire me and my awesome skills for….

Apr 16

Regrouping

That’s what I’ve been doing.

Closing the store has been exhausting and cathartic and sad and freeing all in one.

There are so many days I wanted to write, but I couldn’t find the brain cells to string letters together to form words. My brain cells have been concentrating on cleaning up 13 years of work-accumulated props and window displays and deciding what price to sell them off at. Part of me wanted to keep everything, just in case, you never know, might find another use for it.

But the I came to the conclusion: I made those things once, if I ever need them again, I can make them again. And next time they’ll be even better. So 4$, 2$, 1$, it’s all going.

 

This means I have done ZERO work on the auction. But don’t worry, it’s going to happen! My house is already full with the stuff that I personally have gathered, along with one particularly hard-working team-member who has been dropping off LOTS of goodies. I know the others are also gathering. You guys are going to be blown away by the stuff we gathered this year.

 

I wanted to make one change to a previous post. If you hand-made anything and are sending it to me, you now need to send it TO MY HOUSE because, well, the store is closing this Saturday at 5pm. If you need my address, just email me or leave a comment.

I just have to get to 5 pm on Saturday, and then it’s full on auction mode!

Apr 04

Clouds moving in, again

The whole premise of the blog is out-running the cartoon clouds over my head. The damn things have been following me for years:

  • the Cystic Fibrosis cloud over jay’s head
  • the infertility cloud
  • the loooooong adoption cloud
  • my mom’s cancer
  • the transplant cloud
  • and then my cancer cloud

not to mention my friend and family’s clouds, that, while not mine, deeply affected us.

This past few weeks, more clouds moved in. More like tornadoes. Jay is having some transplant complications. And the store was giving us anxiety. It’s very hard to be a business owner when you are not physically able to be at work everyday. So today, we did this.

13 years…. we are still in shock.

I don’t know what the future holds. I want to say this happened because of cancer, but cancer is just one part of it. I’m actually feeling pretty ok, physically, that is not the reason why I can’t go to work every day at that particular job. But business-ownership, it’s a whole other kettle of fish. And we are just too tired, too run down. Onward, the time as come.

That damn fucking cloud.

 

Mar 31

4 years ago my mom died of cancer

She didn’t lose her battle to cancer. Just like your uncle didn’t lose his battle to heart-disease or your cousin didn’t lose his battle to diabetes. They died OF heart-disease and diabetes. She died OF cancer.

The one battle my mother lost was her fight to live to be a grandmother. Ironic, considering that she would have outright murdered me in my 20s if I had gotten pregnant. But once I passed the mythical line of my 30s, my mother’s only goal in life was for me to make her a grand-mother. And because those damn cartoon clouds have been following me for years, even after 4 full cycles of in-vitro, with every possible complicated pre-emplantation screening and other medical avenue explored, my uterus just was not going to make her a grandmother.

Luckily though, China made her a grand-mother, twice. And she lived and breathed those precious grand-daughters. She came to China both times and was the first person to hold them other than me and Jay. As a matter of fact she held and bonded with SQ before Jay since that cartoon cloud kept him from coming to China for our first adoption.

Now, I’m not going to go into the long list of things that are happening right now that are making my life suck. Suck more than it has ever sucked before, if you can believe that. It’s not cancer, don’t worry, no mets. But it’s a LOT of other serious things all happening at once and making it impossible to get through the day without spending at least 30 min crying in my closet (the clothes make it soundrproof)

Yesterday, on the 4th anniversary of my mom’s passing, the girls and I dug into her jewelry box. The woman had a TON of jewelry and every year on this day I let the girls pick something out. She wanted them to have it and this is how we choose to do it. But this year, I took something for myself.

IMG_20140331_101444

 

I don’t like anything that has to do with the pink ribbons. This bling is totally not me. But it was hers. And right now, I need her with me.

Mar 25

Deflated and it feels so good

Well, kind of good.

 

It was a bit of a run-around (ok, a LOT of a run-around) but this morning, I saw the old plastic surgeon at 8 am and by 8:35, I was 200cc lighter than when I got there, 100cc removed on each side. He didn’t do it himself, he used this as a teaching opportunity for a very frightened medical student (possibly a resident, who knows, she was so nervous she didn’t introduce herself!). He took out his little magnet, drew circles on my boobs, stuck 2 needles in and left her to do the suctioning. She was so afraid she was going to hurt me, and I just wanted her to please go as fast as she could!

I’m not going to lie. I didn’t get the immediate relief I was hoping for. But the feeling like I am going to throw up in my mouth did go away, so that was REALLY good. He told me it will take a day or two for things to settle and the ribs to start releasing back. At least I stopped wincing when I touch my chest. Progress!

 

 

Mar 23

Things that don’t go well with hot flashes

A few weeks ago, my co-worker/work-wife/daytime-BFF told me she had to cut herself out of her coat. Her zipper had become stuck and she couldn’t get out of it and she started to hyper-ventilate a bit and cut herself out of her coat. At the time, I made fun of her. I mean, it’s a coat, not a locked box!

Well, let me publicly apologize to her. Because today, I got stuck in my neck-warmer and totally was bordering on a panic attack. You see, I went skiing with the kids. During lunch, I started to feel a hot flash coming on. My first reaction was to unzip and remove my hoodie immediately, but I was still sweating profusely, in a public place, with snowpants, long-johns, and a thermal top. Even the kids were looking at me funny. ‘Mom, are you ok? You are all wet!’ That’s when it occurred to me that I was still wearing my fleece neckwarmer (I always lose those suckers so I don’t usually take it off inside). I tried to take it off, but I was so hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, and my left arm won’t raise up at all since last week, that I got stuck. Yes, I got stuck. Trying to yank it off with only my right hand while sweating profusely proved to be impossible and my kids had to yank it off for me. The teenagers at the next table sure were wondering what the hell was going on.

So I’m sorry I made fun of you Dee. I too now have been the victim of an attempted-suffocation by apparel. It’s not funny. Except it sort of is….

You know what else doesn’t go well with hot flashes? Snow shoeing. You sweat like a mo-fo when you snow-shoe, the last thing you need is a hot flash. And you know what else? Icy-hot muscle cream. Because when your snowshoeing/skiing legs are achy and you think ‘Oh, this will make them feel nice’, the last thing you think of is ‘oh, it will also increase my body temperature by another 10 degrees’

 

Mar 20

No Survivorship Plan

I just wrote a whole long post and deleted it. Let me sum it up in 10 words: I’m in pain, I’m fed up, I don’t have a surgery date.

Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Survivorship Plans. Some cancer centers have them, for patients to deal with the ‘after’ of cancer. (here is an example). I didn’t have one of those. My first hand cancer experience was either you died (my mom, my friend, my uncle, my aunt) or you were totally fine and rose like a Phoenix (the few ‘super survivors’ that I met). At no point did I meet someone who told me: ‘yes, you are going to live, but you are going to be in pain and frustrated and won’t feel like yourself’. Coming to terms with this is proving to be even harder than coming to terms with the cancer itself. I wasn’t surprised when I found out I had cancer. I am surprised by how hard this part is.

Mar 18

I’m a Pain Ninja

At least, that is what Dr. Movie Star called me today.

So last week was pretty fucking crappy. It ended with a cancelled plastic surgery appointment because he got stuck in the O.R. saving someone’s arm or something… the nerve! Anyhow, he was super duper kind and called me Friday night and reassured me that he would find a solution. I met with him today. I am getting implants. The simple regular reconstruction. But not for the reasons that I thought. Not because the DIEP is too risky and the recovery is too long. Because the expanders are not working.

Well, the right one is working. It’s a very small B right now. But the left one, the radiated side, it’s not expanding. The implant/expander is getting bigger, but the skin in not stretching. The tissue is so damaged from the radiation that instead of pushing outwards and stretching the skin, the expanders are now DENTING my ribs.

This is why I am in pain all the time. I am not crazy. I am not a wuss. The frigging expander is pushing inwards and DENTING MY RIBS. So regardless of my choice of risk-management, he wouldn’t do the modified-DIEP he was planning. The only way he would do it would be with skin grafts, and that is just not going to happen.

So he signed the request and we are waiting for 1 hour in the O.R. to yank these tissue expanders out and replace them with small implants. Very small implants. I won’t be flat, but I won’t be holding up any tube-tops either.

The thing is, I’m in pain all the time. on a good day, it’s a 2-3 on the pain scale. On a bad day, it’s a 5/6 for a few hours at a time. That’s why he called me a Pain Ninja.  It doesn’t help that it’s the same side that I broke my rib, so sometime I’ll move and feel a stabbing pain. He promised me as soon as he removes the expanders, I will feel relief. If you happen to be the hospital administrator that books O.R. time, can you find me a slot ASAP? *okthanksbye*

Mar 14

Risk Management

I hate the way my body looks now. It is riddled with scars, disfigured, mangled. I close my eyes when I walk into the bathroom, shower with my eyes shut and don’t open them until after I’ve at least put on a shirt. When I met Dr. Movie Star in January and he told me I could in fact get the DIEP reconstruction, I allowed myself to imagine my body without all the scars. I looked at endless before and after pictures of women who had similar surgeries. I let myself ‘go there’, imagine what I might look like….

What was I thinking? I mean, this is ME we are talking about. Things don’t work out for me. We are the people who have to have our kids’ birthday parties during Shivas or at the palliative care center. We are the people where one person is home post-surgery with her arms pinned to her sides and drains in her abdomen while the other finds himself with pneumonia in the hospital during Passover. We are not the people who can have the fancy surgeries with bonus tummy tucks.

This is what is going on: my husband is having some pretty serious complications from his lung transplant. Serious enough that we have to start managing risks. Serious enough that for me to have a 12 hour surgery and an 8 week recovery period is not an option. I’m not talking about making lunches and driving kids to lessons, I know we can hire/get help. I’m talking about making sure that one parent is alive.

So I cancelled the big fancy surgery. It makes me very sad. I’m upset with myself for letting me thing I could have it in the first place.

 

PS: the first person that tells me that scars tell a story or that I am beautiful on the inside etc gets punched in the face. just so we are clear on this.

Mar 13

Auction: we have dates!

Mother nature did her best last night to keep Team Outrunning the Cloud from gathering and making plans. But half the team and some of our most harden supporters (aka the wine-drinkers) did show up, and auction business was attended to.

The auction will take place from May 25th to the 29th.
The auction URL is http://www.32auctions.com/outrunningthecloud2014

This should give everyone plenty of time to gather items. We are hoping to get many of the crafters and makers out there to send us something to auction off. We are also looking for gift certificates, show tickets, etc. Anything that we can auction off to raise money for our team fundraising for The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers.

If you would like to donate something, you can of course email me and let me know. To simplify things a bit, we will be asking for donations to be shipped to my store this year, to ensure someone is always there to receive the packages (I spent way too much time driving to the post office last year!). You can send items to

Mortimer Snodgrass
56 Notre-Dame Ouest
Montreal, Qc H2Y 1S6

EDITED: THE STORE HAS CLOSED. Please email me or comment to get my home address to mail things.

Obviously to make our lives easier, the sooner we get the items, the easier it will be to photograph them and list them, but we will accept items until the last minute, Friday May 23rd. Unfortunately we will not be able to list items that arrive after that day.

We would also welcome any help getting the word out to find bidders. Any bloggers/writers/reporters that would like to write about us, share the link to our auction, etc, we would REALLY appreciate it.

 

PS: just wanted to add a new for new readers that the Weekend is NOT affiliated with Komen in any way. All funds go to the JGH, the hospital where I am treated. They have a fabulous cancer center and great researchers.

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