Update 39

June 13 – Major news flash! I cut my hair last night! There was a place in the back that was longer than all the rest and wouldn’t blend in nicely with the rest of it – so off it went! I always had hair scissors with my makeup and would whack off any stray hairs that were not behaving so apparantly that part of routine is back! Bought “red” hair color, too! None of this subtle stuff either. This time I got True Red! And more hair styling products! Gel Pomade and a texture gel called GRAB. Up until now one bottle of shampoo has me lasted for eight months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Something I would like to comment on and commend all my friends and acquaintances on – not treating me as if I had an infectious disease or that I am now different! I was surprised at some of the comments I heard from some of the other “participants” at the group session about how they had been treated. I have not experienced that and I wonder if it stems from the way you view yourself? You know the old saying - that if you don’t respect yourself no one else will either – I think it may be along the same line. I wonder, too, that since I am self-employed I did not face any discrimination in the work place? We also have excellent health insurance (TriCare Prime for retired military just in case anyone is curious) so have not had to deal with those issues, thank heavens. I think my friends and colleagues see me as “Margot who happened to have had breast cancer,” not a victim to be pitied and avoided. If that has been the case, I don’t know it, although I do have a couple of friends who have trouble dealing with it, but they told me so and it is their own feelings that come in to play, not really me. I view myself as someone who had breast cancer and will have to live with it – “live” being the key word here – and I also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, varicose veins and a weight problem. So………….I will find a place to stick the breast cancer on my “living with” list and learn to accept it and get on with life! I will continue to talk about breast cancer, though, not as a victim but as an advocate for mammograms and early detection – big difference! I feel strongly that seeing another woman who has gone through it and is doing very well is a big plus in getting women to realize that a diagnosis of breast cancer, while not a nice thing at all and very, very scary, is not a death sentence and once treated early on, the prognosis of a long and healthy life is excellent. Whooee! Soapbox Sue is on a roll!

One of the things K (counselor, takes to long to write counselor all the time!) and I discussed was that I did not want to be viewed as “different” or “unique” after having had breast cancer. I went on and on about it (not quite Ranting Rita, but close!) until it hit me that I was the only one who seemed to have an issue with it, none of my friends, family, students or colleagues seemed to have a problem as I stated in the previous paragraph. It was an epiphany when I realized that! So again, I thank all of you that I come in contact with for accepting me as “just Margot.”

I am going to see the dietician on Thursday at 1:00, K at 1:45 and then attend a group meeting led by K at 3:00 so will be making a full day of it at the Cancer Institute! I am now finding I am interested in hearing others speak as I feel I will be getting more insight into what to expect now and will be passing any and all info on in these journals.

Another comment - after hearing all the talk about President Reagan these past days I have decided I would rather have cancer than Alzheimer’s. I can recover from cancer!

June 14 – How do I explain what is going on now? Physical stuff is much easier to describe. Emotional stuff is much harder and much more personal if you can believe that! I can tell you all about my boobs and about constipation from chemo but have a hard time talking about how my mind is working now. Yesterday was ……intense……..
Got an email from a friend who is a two year survivor and she just found out that she has another tumor and has to have yet another surgery. When I read her email it felt like something slammed into me. I cried and cried, for her and for me. Part of the depression is a renewed sense of my own mortality and just how fragile life really is. I’m not sure yet just why cancer recovery is so different from any other illness or situation, I hope to get a better understanding with the one-on-one therapy and maybe from the group this Thursday. I have had other dreadful things happen in my life and not have the shattering feeling, nose flaring, anxiety attacks and the draggy, unsettled feelings from the depression. Why is this cancer causing these things to form when the other situations didn’t or the anxiety/depression was not so intense? Had one of those nose flaring anxiety attacks today but recognized it for what it was and made myself calm down. I guess that is progress; at least I can identify them now! That is the first one I have had since I began to see a counselor. They were pretty regular before that but I thought it was left over reactions from chemo. Well, I guess it was, just not a physical reaction!

I also spoke with my friend who is newly diagnosed. She has gone back and read the journals from the beginning and was commenting on how she feels like she is falling apart now and I seemed to handle all quite well at the beginning of my journey. The big difference is that I am having those same reactions now, almost a year later. Next month will be the “anniversary” of my diagnosis! At the beginning, everything happened so fast that I was always involved in something that didn’t leave much room for thinking beyond the present and what had to be done that day. Now I do have time to reflect on all that happened and am quite overwhelmed by all of it now, this much later. Mind you I am very busy, but it is not the same as “fighting for your life” busy.

Good time for some Flavia quotes: “It is an essential need of the soul to know that we are loved and that we have made a difference.”
“In destiny’s grand design there are no random meetings for all is meant to be.”
“We reveal who we are by how much we are willing to give.”
And, one of my very favorites - “Blessed are we whose lives have been touched by those who care for they have shown us the true meaning of love.”

Lets talk boobs now! Dr. J said it would be some months before things all settled in and all the tissue swelling was gone. Still don’t wear a bra, which is a “good thing.” I will not win any awards for great boobs but wouldn’t have won it before I had a bilateral mastectomy either so nothing has changed in that department! The only thing that I am not fond of are two little, sort of deflated areas on the inside edges of the implants. It is like the implants are not wide enough to fill the space left from my “originals.” When I am flat on my back I am a bit flat in the middle of my chest and my boobs are more out to the sides (unfortunately that is how the “originals” were, too!) instead of being perky straight up! Dr. J did say I would look fairly natural and he was right, guess I was secretly hoping to look like a movie star!!!!!!!!!!!!! Scars are there, still a bit reddish but nothing scary or ugly at all, just different than before and just scars. The nipple surgery in September will be the final touch that will make them look more like the “originals!” The tissue around the implants is still soft so I am not creating a lot of scar tissue, at least not now. I must admit that it does feel a bit odd when I bump into something with the Twins. Like I have some kind of life vest on! Boobs were a bit sore today, did an lot of pushing and pulling yesterday in the yard and I realized it was not really my boobs that were sore but my actual chest muscles which now are one in the same!!!!!!!!!!! Port scar still itches and there is a bit of a constant itch right between my boobs.

My granddaughter, Chloe will arrive in about two weeks and that might be just what the doctor ordered to make me feel better! She will be here for a week and we have lots of activities planned. She is seven and tells everyone that she and her Gramma (me!) are the artists in the family! Still cannot believe I am someone’s grandmother! I haven’t decided yet what I am going to be when I grow up – how can I be someone’s Gramma??????????? Harold is known as PawPaw!

June 15 – Major breakthrough! I realized this morning why I feel the recovery process has taken a detour with me. First, you need to know I am a big SciFi fan (love their commercials that just present the word IF before the rest of the letters appear!). I was watching Stargate SG1 last night and when I woke up this morning the answer was right there in front of me. This may take a bit of visualization on your part but just bear with me! All of the other dreadful things that have happened to me over my lifetime had a beginning and an ending. It happened, I got through it and got on with my life. No residual effects except memories whether good or bad, just memories or scars or whatever but – done! With cancer it is like I have been invaded by an alien force that may have been killed during treatment (certainly was an all out war to try and kill it!) or that is in hiding somewhere just waiting for the opportunity to strike again. Hey, hey, hey, I told you to bear with me on this! I am trying to find an analogy here that I can deal with and to try and explain to both myself and anyone reading these journals what is happening to both mind and body through this journey. I quite like the word “alien” since none of this fits in with any known pattern to my poor brain. This whole process is forcing me to look at my life differently and I guess I am fighting that whole concept tooth and nail! I don’t like to be “forced” into anything! I suppose it is the old control issue rearing up here! If you are a woman who has had a child you can relate to my next analogy – when they tell you in the middle of a huge contraction to just relax! Okey dokey, very sorry, but I couldn’t quite manage that one either! People say not to think about a possible recurrence – okey dokey, very sorry, but it is part of my psyche now due to the invasion of the “alien force” which was breast cancer, that tried to kill me! People have said to me you could just as easily get hit by a car. Well, sorry again, but I rarely am in a position to be struck by a moving vehicle so that possibility is remote to me, however, the possibility is much more real that I have an abnormal cell that is just biding its time again so you tell me (not you personally, of course!) which is the more possible before telling me to just not think about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That possibility has become a part of my “New Normal” life now and I am going to have to learn to live with that knowledge. Am in a mood today aren’t I! Must be careful or Ranting Rita will have to be asked to leave the building! I don't like the anger that comes on but I am thinking it is cleansing my heart and soul of nasty stuff that is lurking there, just simmering away!

Ha! I just read the Flavia quote from my calendar for today’s date and listen to this one! “In the scattered stardust of a broken dream lies the shimmering promise of a brand new dream.” I think I shall paste that one on my forehead! What timing for that one! I really must get back on track and think about what “will be” and not so much “what is” right now.

June 16 – Okay a little bragging is in order here. Background first – part of what I do for a living is to go to individual groups and to conventions where I teach painting classes. First good thing is that I am getting bookings as far in advance as 2008 so I guess they expect me to be around to fulfill my contract! But here is the “biggie news!” I just got a call from the guy who runs a painting convention in Las Vegas every year and I had two class submissions selected to teach in February of 2005. Well…………..One class just tripled and the other just doubled!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh happy day! He puts 36 students in a class (and sneaks in a couple extra) so the math is wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!! That certainly puts me in a fine mood!

Good way to end the week, don’t you think?

Off to see the dietician, counselor and attend a group Living with Cancer meeting tomorrow, then errands. Off to Maryland to teach for the weekend and then I will begin to prepare for the arrival of my granddaughter. How is it I have time to be depressed or anxious?????????? Had a couple of the dreaded nose-flaring episodes over the past couple of days so the #$^$% anxiety is apparantly still lurking! But – I shall prevail over this, too!

By the way, I chickened out on using the new True Red hair color, figured I had better wait until after I went to Maryland – just in case. With my luck, this one will turn “clown red!” I will do it the beginning of next week though since I will be home for awhile! I also trimmed the sides and a bit of the back of my hair!!!!!!!!!!!! And I have roots that are almost ½” long? Now that my hair is growing again it is growing at an amazing speed! It has only been about a month since I colored my hair and ended up with Boring Brown Betty!

Photo of the week is my front entryway. Still in the garden series. We had that new front door put in about a year and half ago. We demolished the whole front entryway area to be able to put in that door and side window. The door and trim all have a real Copper coating applied by yours truly! Note the lovely mound of flowers by the tree! Are you impressed by my green thumb?????????? Click on image for a larger view.

Till next time,

Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly (as long as I am standing anyway!) Ranting Rita and Soapbox Sue, did I miss anyone?

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