July 5 – Holy Smokes! Ninety! How could I have possibly written ninety updates! When things are fairly calm it is hard for me to remember just what could have taken up so much space! Of course, I don’t want to dredge all that up just to clarify ninety updates so I will quit going on and on about it!
Blood work continues to hold around 10.3. Up the last time to 10.6 and down this time to 10.3 so I am at least “holding my own” as the nurse said. I see the doctor in two weeks for my three month check-up and hopefully he will let me come once a month instead of every two weeks to check. Even better, maybe he has a reason for the anemia! And a cure! Ooooo…..wouldn’t that be lovely! The only real symptom I have is that I am chilly and a bit lightheaded after bending over and that goes away quickly. If I have to live forever with Anemic Anastasia I can do that, too. The key word being “live.”
I did have a fun experience at the doctor’s office though. I finally got the guts to try coloring my hair again by myself (remember my first episode after chemo when it turned raspberry!) and I am truly Ravishing Red-headed Real Hair Rita once again! My hairdresser was just too cautious! I kept telling her I wanted RED hair and it got just a bit lighter and redder each time and at the rate we were going I would be ninety-five before I was red enough! I watched how she cut it and now I am doing that myself, too. In case anyone is interested, you pinch the hair between your fingers and instead of cutting along your fingers you cut into the hair in a choppy motion so it ends up a bit uneven. You do have to be careful not to cut your fingers in the process though! Anyway, I was checking in at the front desk at the oncologist’s office and the woman just went on and on about my hair. How did I get it to look like that? Turn around so she could see the back, how hard was it to do…………In a good way mind you! Not – “Oh - my - gosh, what DID you do to your hair!” So I told her to chop it up, put mega mousse in it, dry it upside down, mess it up with your fingers, spray it with mega hairspray and mess it up evenly! I saw her later and she bent over, stood up and made messy motions with her hands and we both laughed! She had a nice, neat hair cut so I cannot imagine her doing this to her own hair but you never know!
The Ongoing Saga of the Boob Named Dolly. Okay, I am really ready for this story to have an ending. The fluid is still building up but instead of being under the implant I am growing a new boob out to the side of Dolly! The scar tissue is stretched and it looks like I have a big blister there. At the moment I have it secured with a band-aid! Luckily there is no feeling there as I put on one half of the band-aid then pull on my skin to reduce the pressure on the blister and then tape it down. I am wearing a tight sports bra to help keep it in place and reduce the pressure. I tried wearing the one bra I found in the bottom of a drawer but after one day the “girls” begged me not to do that again! I see Dr. J. tomorrow and hopefully he will have some word on what is going on. He will have to do something tomorrow about the blister because I cannot imaging how totally gross it would be if it burst! EeeeeeeeeYewwwwwwwwWeeeeeeee! He cannot do the drain thing though (inserting drains, letting the fluid drain out then injecting a chemical that would dry up the inside around the implant) as I leave in a couple of weeks and I will be gone for more than a week, and I am really swamped with work that must be done before I go so if that has to happen it will have to be in August since he needs me here for at least four weeks. A friend of mine was commenting on all the trouble I am having with my reconstruction and that maybe that wasn’t a good way to go after a mastectomy. Believe me, it normally is! It is this crappy Elite 1% Club I have been forced to join that is the problem. Most people go on about their business after reconstruction with none or just a few minor problems. Of course, one option is to have the implant removed but it is not an option for me. I like having boobs! And, who knows, this problem I am dealing with may have a totally different underlying cause. No matter, I fought for my life and now I will fight for my boobs! I am always up for a good fight anyway!
I want to thank all of you who have sent people to read the journals. The counter has just gone over 9900! I still get many letters from people who read them and found some comfort or info there and that is what the journals are all about. Day-to-day living as an ordinary cancer survivor. Not a movie star or some other famous person but a nice, ordinary lady you would see in the grocery store. I think that is the appeal of the BC Journals. People can easily relate to my story. Anyway, without your help and my webmaster Marian doing such a great job, the BC Journals (www.margotclark.com/BC) would not be so widely read. So, thank you again!
A couple of Brain Andreas (www.storypeople.com) quotes now, (I am sure the man knows me personally and writes these things just for me!). I know I have included these a long time ago but they are sooooooo good they bear repeating!
July 8 – Well……………..Dolly is once more her correct size but, what a gross way to get there! Believe me, the following description is not for the faint at heart! If you get nauseous easily you might want to skip the next paragraph!
I went to see Dr. J. this morning, put on the very fashionable pink paper jacket and waited. He came in and said, “Well…how is it?” I said, “It is gross!” He looked and all he saw at first was the bright red sore that is left after the water blister from the band-aids come off (of course, I am allergic to the dratted adhesive!) and he said, “That is not so bad.” I said, “No, that is not. It is this” as I take off the bandage on Dolly’s side. The blister had started to “weep” this morning and I had to wear gauze to keep it from coming through my shirt. I watched his face and he tried to keep still but I could see his eyes when he looked at the gross blister and said to him that you know it is gross when the doctor makes a face! He just laughed and said it wasn’t as bad as it looks. The disgusting blister is where the scar tissue is weak, fluid travels to anyplace there is a space and the weak tissue just kept stretching. He was fiddling around there and finally says, “There, that looks pretty good,” and gives me a mirror. I almost had a heart attack! The blister was about 1 ½” long and about ¾” wide. He had cleared away all of that and drained it and cleaned it and was very proud of his work, I could tell. Well……it looked like someone had cut a raw steak partway through and placed it in my poor boob! It was also dented inwards! I actually said, “EEEK! That is disgusting!” He ignored me and went on to explain that the denting was from the pressure of the fluid build-up and that tissue was forming nicely around the new implant and that the small layer of fat (the only place on my whole body where there is a small layer!) was all that had separated and I was looking at my muscle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GROSS!!!!!!!! Needless to say, I gave him back his mirror right away! He said he was going to cut away all the old scar tissue (the doctors have been in there three times so far in the same scar) as the tissue was just too weak, then he would stitch the muscle back together and then stitch the new skin back together. Lordy! He did that in the office and just shot a bunch of anesthetic around the area. I could see (and feel!) the stitches going in and being pulled and tied! Bandaged me up and off I went. I wasn’t too sore then, but later I was a bit uncomfortable from the shots and from all the mashing he did to get all that disgusting fluid out. No shower for two days and back next Friday to see how it looks. Now it doesn’t hurt at all as the stitches are in the area that has no feeling anyway. Once in awhile I feel an ache shoot through Dolly and then it is gone so really, this was not too bad (except for being so very gross!). Took it easy this weekend, just painted on a piece that has to ship out of here by Wednesday so it worked out well that I couldn’t go outside and play! I will have to keep the stitches in for a couple of weeks and I leave to teach on the 20th and won’t be able to get back in to see him until the 30th. He said it would be okay if they stayed in a bit longer. Good thing! So, keep your fingers crossed that Dolly will calm down and behave herself!
I will go to Daytona Beach to teach, come home, repack and leave to teach in Houston for a week so you can see that I am feeling just fine. I have plenty of time to rest between classes so I will enjoy myself, stitches or not!
Now, I have a really touching story to tell. Maybe you will remember a while ago I asked everyone to pray for a young woman (was pregnant and was diagnosed with breast cancer) whose mother-in-law had written to me. Well, I have been in touch with Cathy (the mother-in-law) and her daughter-in-law is doing well. Cathy quilts and told me she was doing a quilt square for both me and her daughter-in-law to be auctioned off to raise money for breast cancer. I just assumed it was a local event and was very pleased and honored to be included. Well……she just sent me a link to an EBay auction for the quilt and I was floored by many things! First of all, she and her friends from the Among Friends Quilt Shop in Louisville, Kentucky were part of a charity Quilt Auction sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens American Patchwork and Quilting called “Quilt Pink.” On September 30, 2006 more than 1,000 quilt shops all over the world held the Quilt Pink Event and people agreed to help create quilts to be auctioned off with 100% of the profit to go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The link she sent took me to a picture of the beautiful quilt she worked on, Cathy’s two squares are on the quilt and the quilt is called Charity Quilt Pink #1904 Friends M Clark & C Eberhardt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I burst out crying when I saw that! Then I read the description of the quilt and it says, “This quilted sampler has two survivor names embroidered on the front, Margot Clark and Catina Eberhardt. I was just sobbing by that time! The auctions will run for 6 months with a total of 4,000 quilts being auctioned! Is that amazing!! I am truly humbled by Cathy’s special kindness of including me along with her daughter-in-law. I am crying again just writing this! People are so amazing!
July 9 – Just signed up for the 4th Annual CURE Patient Survivor Forums. It will be here in Orlando in August. For info on this one or one in your area go to www.curetoday.com/forums and sign up if you can. It is a two day event to help survivors learn to live with and thrive after cancer and will cover such things as the latest treatments and psychosocial issues. Smaller sessions will include intimacy and sexuality, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, being a co-survivor, exercise and recovery and more. The cost to attend was $50.00 for the two days and that includes breakfast and lunch. CURE is my favorite magazine about cancer and what is going on. You can get a free subscription if you are a cancer survivor or co-survivor by going to www.curetoday.com
Someone just wrote and asked me if, knowing what I have been through with my implants, would I have chosen to have reconstruction. Here is my response:
Yes, yes, yes! I would opt for reconstruction again in a heartbeat! I do not want to "do without" nor do I want to mess with prosthetics. That would remind me daily of what happened as it would always be a visual. I love going without a bra and having perky boobs and will fight tooth and nail to keep them! Keep in mind that I am only having all these problems because I belong to that hated Elite 1% Club!
The expander to permanent implant surgery was a piece of cake compared to the mastectomy/reconstruction surgery. My plastic surgeon is still of the opinion that I would have been just fine if I had not had a recurrence which amounted to a year more of treatment with all those drugs that affected all my cells. I believe that it was the drugs going through my veins that may have caused a leak somewhere that caused the problem under the implant. Soooooooooooooooooooo.....................go for it! You will love having perky boobs!
July 13 – Doctor day. Dr. J. just took off the bandages and looked at the wound. Said it looks good but that I needed to keep the stitches in for two more weeks. He said the skin is very thin at the side of my right breast from all the stretching and pulling that has been done in that area. Dolly seems to have settled down so, keep your fingers crossed that I am about done with all her shenanigans!
Exciting news! I know I mentioned that I had joined a local art league here, so did Dr. J. Well, we are submitting entries to a juried show that will be held in one of the new gallery areas in downtown Orlando. We are both a bit nervous, this will be his first time in a juried show and I haven’t done this in many years. Maybe none of our stuff will get in but…….it won’t get in for sure if we don’t try! Poor man – when I found out in 2003 that he did glass art and no one knew it………..I took over the job of bringing it all to the light! It has been fun to watch the confidence blossom. He even asked if I would be interested in collaborating on an article for a glass magazine – a far cry in just four years from not telling anyone he was an artist! A really good feeling to be able to do that for someone. Of course, if he beats me out in the show I may decide he no longer needs a mentor! The show is the night before I leave to begin teaching for a week and none of my family will be here! Won’t matter if I don’t get in but Jen plays on a kickball league and Harold is going out of town for his 40th High School Reunion! I think Harold is secretly glad he will be out of town so he doesn’t have to go! He would go for me but I know he does not enjoy that whole “arty” scene. Jen would go in a heartbeat as she loves all that stuff but……..she has a life. That’s okay, I will just tag along with Dr. J. and his girlfriend. Nice to be old enough so that doesn’t bother me! See, age does have its own benefits!
So, after all that…do I seem to be living in the shadow of cancer? I actually am but I refuse to let it stop me from living! No sitting on the sidelines for me! I guess Feelingverysorryformyself Francine must have finally gone to stay with someone else! Seems like Artist Annie and Excitement Emma have taken her place. I like them much better anyhow! I still have my doctor weeks, next week is one of them but all in all I am doing quite well.
July 15 – Lazy Sunday afternoon, watching the rain, thinking about being content. I don’t feel the need to conquer the world now that my battle with cancer seems to be over. I just want to be physically strong enough to garden and feel good enough to paint and teach. I want to share my life with people that I love and who love me. I fought hard and now I want to be content. No great plans, I simply want to enjoy my life. It is enough.
No Photo of the Week. I think I have finally run out of things to show! We are working on a gate for the courtyard that is off our bedroom and off the new den. We are putting pieces parts together to form it so maybe I will post a photo of it when it is done as it should look pretty cool! Mostly I am maintaining the patio and courtyards and doing general yard work. I really can’t build or carry anything heavy (like paving stones!) until I get my stitches out and we know Dolly has settled down! I am going to be very busy these next couple of weeks – living life!
Until next time,
Margot a.k.a Perky Polly Keeper of the Perky Twins, Dolly who seems to be taking on a life of her own, Anemic Anastasia, Artist Annie, Excitement Emma and Feelingverysorryformyself Francine
If you have any questions please email me
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