Update 34

April 2 (afternoon) - Another reader who is going through breast cancer also wrote the following after reading my last update when I was so down. I am sure she is right and am so glad she wrote this to me. I will pull out of this I know. I have now progressed to being angry and a bit sullen that I had to do all this. Well, it is progress………… Anyway, on to what she wrote………..

“I think our bodies have been so compromised, even more then we allow ourselves to think. Maybe you might consider taking something for depression upon occasion? I just think we try so hard to be what we consider normal, that we overtax not only our physical but emotions also. I continually have to remind myself (mastectomy recovery) it has only been since Jan 12th 2004. For some strange reason I keep thinking, “What is wrong with me?” Then I have to look at the calendar and count back...gee it hasn’t been but a few months since surgery! The experts say, it takes as much as one year to begin to feel normal for some people. If I may be so bold, I think for people like myself and possibly you (over achievers) we continue to push ourselves to the limit...you look at your schedule compared to the schedule you had before your illness. You have slowed down considerably right? Well, I will tell you your schedule now is probably 10 times more then what most women do your age on any given day who have never had cancer...and I think you know that, and that is wherein lies the problem! O.K, I have preached enough.. sorry if I have stepped on any toes...just continue to take care of yourself and know I think of you often...”

Another reader wrote whose husband is going through cancer; “I wish I were there with you so we could cry together. I see you and my husband going through similar days. No one who hasn't experienced it for themselves or with someone they love can begin to imagine what it is like. You have made it this far and have changed so many lives along the way.”

I had a friend call and suggest that maybe the journals were contributing to my sadness, keeping it all in the forefront. Maybe, but they are something I have to do and I pointed out that I mostly have great days so bad ones once in a while are pretty normal – for everyone! I wrote about my sadness mainly to remind people that it is not over when you are finished with surgeries and chemo. And, especially for people who read the journals that maybe have more bad days than I do so they know that it is quite normal. I think that I would not be behaving normally for my situation if I never had a bad day!

I think my maybe problems may be due to the fact that I am tired again after my trip and still have to prepare to go away again shortly. These trips have been scheduled and I will not cancel them, I am not THAT tired! As soon as I ship this stuff out, I will be calmer (that’s the plan, anyway). I am stressed with all I have to do and need to learn how to handle the stress better than I am. I just “did it” before and now I see I have to change my ways, yet again! I think my friend hit the nail on the head when she said we want to feel normal so badly we forget the time line and overtax ourselves.

April 3 – Well, I am just fine today! That depression/sadness/anger thing was like a drug that eventually wore off! Jen and I went shopping today as I decided today was the day I got a new wig. Went back to the same store I got the other three at, Wig Villa, and had a ball, just like the last time. Tried on about ten and ended up buying two more! One I am calling Joan Jett, looks like Sassy Simone grown out a bit and is more auburn with dark brown streaks and the other I am calling Dramatic Drucilla! She is short at the back, longer on top and sides and is dark brown, a bit darker than what’s left of the brown in my own hair. Both wigs will allow for my own hair escaping out from under the wig to not be noticeable. You are probably asking why I would buy two more at this point in time and the answer is – “I want them!” I now have two more personalities to choose from each morning. I do plan on wearing them at conventions and when I travel teach as it is very easy to care for my hair (no blow dryer, no curling iron, no gels, no hair spray – only some shampoo to pack!) I will have to retire Sassy Simone until I dye my own hair red as my dark hair shows now too easily under her as she is so short.

April 6 – Finally, the days that are just normal seem to be outweighing the days that something breast cancer related is happening. However, I do have one more disappearing boob story for you. Now I have to check these things out as I am beginning to notice what it feels like when they disappear! I was bending over at the waist unpacking some merchandise and I felt the “pull.” Sure enough, that position, even though I was not using my arms, uses the very same chest muscles and there they were, over to the sides again. What a surprise someone would get if they happened to sneak a peek down my shirt front if I was bending over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I may just have to start wearing a bra so I can harness the Twins in place!!!!!!!!!!!!

A word about the little bench that set me off in the last update…………I did put it right by the side of one of the main paths in my garden so I can see it all the time, I just tucked it behind some Mexican Petunias and in front of a rose bush so you just see the very top of it. I really do like the sentiment even if it made me cry!

Flavia quotes: “Wake each morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen.” What a great way to start the day! And this one: “In those rare quiet moments, we are given the chance to contemplate what really matters.” That is exactly what happened during those times when I was so tired from the chemo and just sat around. Had a lot of time to think about my life. So…………take some time for yourself and think about what really matters to you and then figure out how to accomplish that in your life. Feels good I can tell you!

Shipped stuff off to Carson City, Nevada, yesterday for my next seminars. Whew, I had forgotten how much work was involved in travel teaching until I began to prepare for Knoxville, Carson City and even here in Orlando at the end of April when I don’t even have to fly anywhere! I am booking into 2006 but not offering nearly as many dates as I have in the past. I have a lot of travel to do between now and August (it was already booked before all my problems reared their ugly heads!) and it is exhausting when you are at your best, health wise so have decided to see about having the nipple reconstruction done in August after my last trip for a while. I don’t leave again until October and that is to take a class myself with my friends, Karan and Patte in North Carolina! Originally, I had booked this time free for me to write another book. Well, I haven’t finished the last one so I will try and work on that one and go and visit Jaime & Co. in Dallas in September to recuperate. Since Dr. J is doing a skin graft from my tummy to create the areolas and they will be sewn onto my boobs (ye-ouch, that even sounds weird!) I have to be careful to not disturb the stitches. He will be creating the nipple form my own chest skin but there will be cuts and stitches there, too. The areas will be bandaged for a while so will need to be here to see him for that, too. I go to see him the end of April to determine when I would have the nipple reconstruction surgery and will be leaving for Phoenix on the 25th of May so figure by the time we get the surgery set up and I go have it, I then would only have a couple of weeks before I had to fly again. I teach again three days after I return from Phoenix so no rest there and leave again for Maryland on June 18th, return on the 21st and Chloe flies in on the 25th. She leaves on July 3rd, my sister Tina flies in on the 16th to run my booths at a trade show here in Orlando while I teach, she leaves on the 20th and I leave again for Ocala, Florida on the 30th and then in August for Columbus, Ohio on the 9th! I am tired myself just reading that! However, on a very positive note – I am capable of doing all that now and it has only been seven and a half months since my mastectomy surgery. For those of you reading this who are going through this same battle there is and ending to the dreadful tiredness and life will go on. The key element in that statement is - Life will go on! When you are in the middle of all the chemo treatments it is sometimes easy to lose sight of that when you feel so rotten. At that point, I could only take one day at a time to get through. Way too much effort to try and think of weeks and months in the future. My goal was to get past the rotten feeling in the days after chemo! So………. the whole babbling on about the trips is to reassure you (and me!) that you do recover and regain your strength. You jut really have to focus on hanging in there and giving your body sufficient time to recover.

The wig trend continues! Spoke to a friend yesterday and she said she had a wig somewhere in her closet and she is going to dig it out and take it in to be cut and styled and is going to start wearing it again for both fun and convenience. Her mom is in a nursing home and she never knows when she will be called to come there in an emergency. I told her it is like putting on a hat! Touch up your make-up, plop on the wig and you are out the door!

Here is a scene from my new life as opposed to my old life. Yesterday Harold was home during the day as he is working nights again this week. I just got started with my work day and he said “Let’s go to breakfast and to Home Depot to get mulch.” (I am mulch queen – would rather have a good supply of mulch on hand than diamonds!) Old me would have said, “Sorry, I have too much work to do.” New me said, “Let my put my hat on! Who shall I be today?” (I was Sassy Simone one more time as I know she is Harold’s favorite). Still have the same work waiting for me but I promised myself it would not interfere with family this go around with life. It was quite a heady feeling sneaking off on Monday morning! I am my own boss, mind you, but I am also a hard task master! What mattered here most was the time spent with Harold, not the fact I missed some hours of work time. I even impressed myself with my new attitude! Didn’t even feel guilty! Progress!

On a roll with the Flavia quotes today – how does she come up with all these great things?????? “We feel sadness so that we may know happiness lest we overlook it.” That one certainly hits home to me!

Here is an excerpt form an email from the friend who bought the wigs after her hair disaster in my last update. She writes, “I used to wear wigs all the time.............at one time I had 21..........all colors, styles and lengths. Fun! So I immediately went to the Wig Shoppe. FUN ! I must have tried on a dozen styles and colors. The saleslady........Carol.........was having as much fun as I was. We laughed till we cried. Well, I made four great friends that day.....Carol.....Sassy Sally ....... Jazzy Jessie and Two Tone Tess. When you cannot decide, buy all three! I figure they will pay for themselves in haircutting alone. So by the time I don't have to color as often and the time alone spent at Beauty parlors.........hey, I have saved time and money!!!!! Is that not a hoot! I love it! She plays the name game well, don’t you think!

April 6 – I am going to murder Harold! We were out for a ride in the neighborhood last night and he saw a couple of our neighbors and stopped and backed up to talk to them even after I told him, “Not now!” as I had no makeup on at all, not one smidge, and had the Press n’ Place hair! It was just getting dark so could he just chat in the darkness? Oh, no - he has to turn on the interior light in his truck so I was now in the spotlight. He had seen the neighbors the other day and they were asking about me so he was being kind, I know, but now everyone was staring at me and I am not at my best without makeup and hair! I have worn eye make-up since my teens and never go out in public without it. After all these years – that is what I look like to me. I don’t know who that very plain woman is in the mirror! Trust me, I will be ninety-five and still wearing eye make-up! If my hand gets too shaky I will just have it tattooed on! I’m telling you, without make-up and longer hair I look very much like a guy! Especially since I had on a T-shirt with the neck and arms cut off! So very feminine! I did manage to mutter to him that he was a dead man before they came up to the truck. Then out comes one of the gals husband and he feels the need to hug me through the truck window and tell me how great I look! He had been drinking and his eyes were a bit glazed over so that is why he thought that! I was not really angry with Harold but told him not to do that to me again!

April 9 – Today is my baby’s birthday! Jennifer turns thirty today! How can that possibly be?????? She went out with friends last night and will go to a party in her honor tomorrow but tonight we are taking her to dinner. She is still trying to decide where she wants to go. We always have to factor Harold in there as he is strictly a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. No
“Sushi” or dishes he cannot pronounce!!!!!!!! Who shall I be tonight? Joan Jett or Dramatic Drucilla????????

I am feeling totally normal these days as far as tiredness and soreness. Nothing out of the ordinary at all. No crashing emotions – ER was on last night but I quickly turned that off! No need to aggravate my emotions! Chest feels firm – like I have well developed chest muscles – no soreness at all. No other lingering symptoms except the short term memory and that will either come back or I will learn to live with it. The Twins are settling in to their new surroundings quite nicely! I have been wearing just T-shirts and pants when I am out and about, since it is getting hotter here and still no bra! I am really lovin’ that part of all of this! I am also post-menopausal so no periods anymore either! Life is good!

Hair report! I almost went out in public yesterday with my own hair. Took Sassy Simone along just in case and did succumb to her charms at the end. I try the gel thing about once a week and yesterday it actually didn’t look quite so horrid. It does seem to have some curl going on or at least it is not stick straight. The lawn guy came yesterday and I did go out to talk with him in my own hair. I am fine at home – it is just out in public I lose my confidence! Harold woke up around noon (he worked nights again) and said “Grab your hat and let me take you somewhere.” Wouldn’t tell me where. Asked him if I really needed my wig and he said “I’m not sure.” Hmmmmmmmm……….. I didn’t put Simone on in the truck, figured if we were going to an auto parts place or drive through lunch it wouldn’t matter. Well, he found a new plant nursery! I needed Simone. There were other women there. I have thought about this and have come to the conclusion I don’t mind men seeing me with my own hair but do not like to be around women I don’t know or don’t know well, without my wig! Must be because women notice things like that more than men do. My wigs are my safety nets – I fit in when I have them on. To me anyway and right now it is me I am concerned with!!!!!!!!!!!! I had a wonderful time and now have to get all my new stuff planted! Soooooooooooooo nice to know I can do that and not be tired except for good ole’ normal gardening aches and pains!

Just found out yesterday that another of my friends has had breast cancer, lumpectomy, chemo, radiation, the whole nine yards. Never knew that, as it was before I met her, but it is wonderful to me to see her going about her nice normal, day-to-day business! Very comforting!

In that same vein of thought, it is a bit scary to find out just how many people I know that have been affected by cancer. Please, please, get your checkups and make sure everyone you love gets theirs, too! It’s the “early detection thing saves lives” thing again.

Flavia quote: “Kindred spirits bring us joy when we need it most.” Many of you have done just that for me during my journey and I thank you for that kindness.

Photo time again! Another in the garden series. I will get some photos of the new “girls” and get them up, too. This photo is of the pergola Harold built just off our bedroom. Path leads from the patio out to the outer edge of the yard past the pergola. Lovely place to settle in with a good book! We have large, sliding glass doors off our bedroom so the view from the bedroom is also wonderful.

Until next time, enjoy life!


Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly (keeper of the Perky Twins, Polly and Dolly), Joan Jett and Dramatic Drucilla. My, oh, my, no actual other “personalities” emerged this time!

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