November 20 – This website was fantastic! I wish I had known about it when I was first going to have reconstruction. Talk about in-depth info! I know the address is long but it is worth the effort. Great thing to pass on to others. Go to www.med.umich.edu then type Breast Reconstruction Plastic Surgery in the empty Search box over to the upper right of the screen. That will take you to tons of info.
December 3 – Before I begin this one let me just say that I am fine! I have been (and still am, really) fighting the fear factor of cancer survivorship. I have had long conversations with myself (who better to really listen and understand!) about getting a handle on this. It is the time of year and the corresponding times of last year. So many friends died last year from cancer (and a ton more are alive and doing well or going through treatment that will help to save their lives) and at his time last year I had just finished treatment and then got shingles two weeks later. By the way, this is not a pity party and I don’t need sympathy, this is so you know that this crappy disease creeps into your thoughts when you aren’t looking! I laid in bed last night thinking about this and telling myself I have to come to terms with all this. I ended up acknowledging that I have relevant fears (a recurrence) and that I had to confront them head on, give them credence and then (again!) decide to live in the present. I keep thinking of my latest past Christmas’ and Thanksgivings and feel almost guilty that I am feeling so well this year. What is with that! I think probably that I am afraid it won’t last. I am just barely past my two year mark from my last recurrence and two years was the time frame when it returned so I guess I am ………….waiting…………and obsessing. I am considered in remission, not cured. I will be in remission for the rest of my life but they will never tell me that I am “cured” so I really do have to learn to live with that and get on with things. I am rambling here and I know it but I want you to realize that for you or your family member or friends who have dealt with this, it is never really over………………..and I know that it is normal. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I do my monthly self breast exams and find nothing. I could choose not to check and save myself the worry about finding something but………………..the consequences of that action would not be beneficial at all. If I find something I can get it taken care of before it kills me.
December 12 – Went to see the endriconologist yesterday and I got an A+! All tests came back as a non-diabetic (although once you are diabetic you are always a diabetic) so my doctor is really pleased. Me too! She wants me to keep on my medication though, to help protect my heart since I have had chemo twice and all that massive radiation.
Just finished up a huge amount of work. Two large magazine articles, submissions to two painting conventions and getting ready for my next art show. I can finally breathe! Got all my holiday decorations up and we even put up a ton of Christmas lights this year. No one is coming here for the holidays but we did it for us. We are all nice and cozy this year in our completed addition. We even finished the floor in the den and kitchen! I still have a few areas where I have to seal the grout but for all practical purposes it is done! Now – we start on all the woodwork we couldn’t do until the floor was in……………….it really never ends………………….But we love it all! Reworking some areas of my gardens, hauling those big ole’ stones around (to clarify – here in Florida we have to BUY our stones and mine are really some kind of poured and tinted concrete) and those suckers are HEAVY! Good exercise though.
Update on the Perky Twins. Well, they are no longer identical twins, now they are fraternal twins. Polly is still Perky but Dolly is still Droopy. Have to wear a sports bra when I go out. I tried a “real bra” for one day and thought I would die. They girls nagged at me the whole livelong day to let them out! They will behave in the sports bra though. Looks as though I may have to just live with this. Dolly is Droopy because the latest implant is smooth and is not making an adhesion to my chest wall. She looks like a normal sixty year old boob though (well maybe a bit perkier than that!) and there has been no more seromas or leaking scars so Dr. J. is none too keen on going back in there and possibly stirring things up again to “try” and get Dolly hauled up when the sports bra works. I am none to keen on more surgery so……………………….I will still call them the Perky Twins but like I said, they are not identical twins anymore!
I went to show someone Dolly II the other day and she had begun to mildew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gross! I almost croaked! I saw Dr. J. I and showed him and asked what the heck happened to her. Apparently she is able to breathe through her artificial pores! He said that eventually all the saline would dry up and form crystals inside. I had to wipe her down with a mild chlorine solution for the mildew (and no, that does not happen when it is inside your body!) and I need to check her every so often and clean her off if necessary. If she dries out he said he would fill her up again for me! Now that is a good doctor!
If you are a baby boomer you absolutely must click on this link. I thought I would die of laughter! Nothing at all to do with breast cancer but just toooooooooo funny!
December 31 – Reflections. Just the fact that I am facing 2008 with no surgeries scheduled and no treatments to go to is cause for celebration! I was thinking this afternoon about some of the stuff I write here and whether it was even necessary or of any importance whatsoever. Then I thought that if I start to edit my information, the one thing I leave out will be the one thing that someone else needed so I guess I will continue to ramble on! When I write articles for magazines they always prefer you give them too much info rather than not enough. They can edit out the stuff they don’t want so I guess you can do that, too!
You know I just love Brian Andreas’ writing and this was the story of the day (available to everyone on www.storypeople.com ) this morning – “Maybe I don’t want a Happy New Year, he said. Maybe I want an intense New Year with a lot of growth experiences & I had to admit I’d never thought of that” What a great thought for the New Year so I am passing it on to all of you! That is surely my intent!
Just had a Dexascan (lovely, painless, keep your clothes on kind of test!) to see how my bones were holding up and I passed as within the normal range with no signs of osteoporosis! Very happy to hear that with all the chemo and radiation I have had over the past four years. Hopefully that is good news to others who worry about their bones as they go through treatment. Not that it doesn’t happen, mind you, but this shows that it doesn’t necessarily have to happen with cancer treatment.
I am feeling fine now, had that bout of paralyzing fear of a recurrence that lasted about two months – because it was the two-year time frame from the last recurrence and it was all I could do some days to control the fear so I could get on with life. I finally told myself – “Look, that may indeed happen in the future and you would have to deal with it all again BUT, today you are fine, so live for today and not for what may come in the future.” I have to say I said that to myself many, many times before my brain would listen and accept it. I write this in case others are having those thoughts and feeling guilty about those dark thoughts or wondering what is wrong with them to feel that way when things are going along just fine. I tell you the fear is real and it can be paralyzing which is why I used those words and am repeating them here again. Hang in there and DO NOT give in to the fear!
Photo of the Week - Just pure-en-tee showing off here! Artistic Annie is in seventh heaven. This is the painting that is hanging at the CityArts Factory in Orlando from Dec. 20 until January 18. The title of the art show is "Shades of ...Black & White." All artwork had to be back and white or shades thereof.
The name of the painting is “Aftermath.” Here is the message that is on the back of the painting. “As an artist and two time breast cancer survivor this piece signifies a great deal for me. There are multiple pieces. The white paintings are attached to the black canvas. Pieces coming back together, forming a whole. There are multiple mediums used. Pen and ink, acrylic paint and colored pencil - all different - but coming together to create a finished work, like cancer treatments all worked together to make me whole again. Cancer is black and white to me. You either have it or you don't. Love, Life and Hope are words that are very, very important to me. I love flowers and gardening and the renewal involved in tending a garden. I once read that to plant a garden is to have hope. The design is very controlled from the artwork down to the neatness of all the words and how they intersect from white to black and that signifies how important it feels to me to be back in control of my life.”
An added note: After seeing “Aftermath” for the first time my friend Lillian told me she saw meaning in the flowers I chose to paint. The open flowers are me before cancer, full of life and vibrant. The pansy is lying down during all the treatments but the leaves are not wilted and I am fighting back. The tulip is rising above, twisting a little to account for setbacks but standing tall, full of Life, Love and Hope.
Who knows, sometimes viewers see meanings the artist didn’t even realize they were aware of at the time they were creating their work. Maybe this was buried in my subconscious all along as it does make perfect sense, doesn’t it! Click on the image for a larger view.
Copyright 2007 Margot A. Clark All rights reserved.
I am writing this in the final minutes of 2007. Harold and I watched (well, he slept and I watched!) Celtic Woman, a lavish display of wonderful Celtic singing and violin playing and the two cats were curled up with me. I thought to myself that all is well in my little world. I wish the happiness and good health to all of us in this New Year.
Margot a.k.a. The Twins - Perky Polly and Droopy Dolly and Artistic Annie. Wow – This is the first time there have not been a slew of other personas. Maybe they have all gone to help someone else who is in need of their services!
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