Update 93

October 4 – I got the following from the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Campaign and really wanted to pass it along. Pretty neat!

Did you know that the American Cancer Society offers a free email mammogram reminder at www.cancer.org/MammogramReminder? Signing up is easy, and you can also send reminders to other women you love!

October 9 – Went to the annual Survivor Dinner given here by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with the Making Strides against Breast Cancer campaign. Very moving to be publicly recognized as a survivor. Technically I am a four year survivor since I was first diagnosed in July of 2003. The longest survivor there was twenty-six years and the youngest was two weeks! Jen was there as a Team Captain for the walk on the 27th for her company We were at a restaurant and they had the room all beautifully decorated in pink and white with a large ice sculpture of the breast cancer symbol. There were no men survivors there and the women were from all walks of life, all ages, every size and shape imaginable and many different cultures. Breast cancer is definitely an “equal opportunity cancer!”

October 10 – Had my oncology check-up this morning and all looks good. My blood is up to 12.1 which is in the normal range. Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The nurse asked me if I had brought in someone else’s blood! I do go next week for another brain scan as I still have to pay close attention when I am walking a long distance in a straight as I tend to drift off to the right. He expects NOTHING unusual but wants both of us to be reassured. He feels it is probably residual effects of the Taxol from my last chemo regimen like my lingering leg cramps. My annual PET scan is in January and the orders say to drink a half a gallon of water before coming for the test. I can tell you that is not happening! Not after last time when I thought I was going to be Leaky Louise right there in the big ole’ PET scan machine! I will drink a lot of water the day before to “plump up my organs” but I WILL NOT drink all that water again and then try to lie completely still for 45 minutes! Nope. Not no how. Not no way. I do like that we are checking things periodically besides just the blood work and I like knowing my oncologist is diligent in watching me closely.

I told him that I still tire easier than I did “before” but then told him that I just got back from a teaching trip to North Carolina, was doing the three mile walk for breast cancer at the end of the month, was going to New York in a couple of weeks to go to a play and since I had seen him in June we have cut down two big trees and hauled them away, had surgery again and am now helping to cut and lay 420 sq. ft of tile. He just laughed and his nurse said, “I haven’t done that much in the last year!” I guess he really didn’t think that my “tiring easier” was really a problem! What can I say? Busy Betty has “things to do!”

I also told him I was having the heebie-jeebies about it being the two year mark since last time and that I was not ready to go to seeing him every six months just yet as the last time we did that I got cancer again. He said that was fine, that he planned on keeping me on a four month schedule for as long as he was my doctor unless I changed my mind. Whew! Just knowing someone is actively looking and checking eases my mind. I am sure as I get further out, time wise, I will settle down but……………….not right now! Right now I am still Needful Nelda!

October 12 – Well…………….I am back in a bra again for awhile. Spoke to Dr. J about Droopy Dolly and you can imagine he is not too keen on going back in there anytime soon until we see if she is going to behave herself for good. In the mean time…………..I had to “pinch” the skin at the bottom underneath her to see if she would move up my chest on her own and she did. So, for awhile I have to wear a tight bra that cuts underneath her to hopefully hold her in place as scar tissue forms and anchors her. It seems that the smooth texture has a harder time making an adhesion to the chest. So, the girls are smushed into one of my old bras and they are complaining. Actually only Polly is complaining as Dolly really wants to be part of the Perky Twins again! They are both wondering just how long we have to play this new game. Sigh………………………

I told some of my friends about my drifting problem and one of them said the brain scan would just show that I was “drifty” naturally and another said I just needed an alignment!

Two of my artist friends and I went to my “Opening Reception” last night for the latest show for my artwork. We all decided there were some “very interesting” other artists there. I told Harold about some of the people we met and he said it was a good thing he didn’t go as he would have only lasted about five minutes. I did get a really cool thing from my show though. The hospital was there for breast cancer as the show was titled “Think Pink” for breast cancer awareness and they were giving all breast cancer survivors goodie bags. Someone had made up a key chain that is a fantastic training tool. It is a series of wooden beads going from really tiny to about an inch in diameter and the beads signify the size of cancer lumps found at different times from a yearly mammogram (the tiny bead) to the large one of a person who does not do breast exams or get a mammogram. I will be taking that with me wherever I go to teach as I always talk a bit about breast cancer and surviving it twice. Both of mine were caught early enough to give me a good prognosis. Go to www.beadforlife.com <http://www.beadforlife.com/> to see them.

October 17 – Well, I do not have to go for my brain scan this morning. Problem with insurance coding so have to contact my regular doctor and have them initiate the referral. Glad to have the reprieve as I leave tomorrow on my cool trip to New York City for my birthday and to not have to have a brain scan the day before is nice. I will do it though as it is important but it was nice to not have to go right now! You really have to appreciate the small things in life!

Tiling in the den/kitchen is almost done so we decided to go ahead and tile our bathroom while we were at it! We have been working very hard at our day jobs and then tiling, grouting at night and last night we looked at each other and decided we need a night off. I went to bed and slept for ten hours! Obviously needed that!

Here is a sobering statistic: “Each year, about 550,000 Americans die of cancer; one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying excess weight.” I read a lot about those risk factors in many different articles and you know we would all be more healthy in general if we followed that line of thinking as well as reducing our risk for cancer. No guarantee of course, but anything you can do to reduce the risk is worth it.

October 17 – Okay, this is just for fun. My daughter Jennifer sent this link to me showing me just how unoriginal I was in naming her when she was born. Apparently there are a million or so Jennifer’s in the US. And lots of Clarks! I rarely hear my own name so I had to go check and there are only 12,123 Margot’s in the US and only 28 Margot Clark’s in the whole USA! Margot is the 1,684th most popular name. Kind of way down at the bottom, isn’t it! Jennifer was 6th I think. I was checking all my friends and family out and some were not even in the data base so it said there were none of them! Anyway for a laugh go see where you rank – www.howmanyofme.com

October 22 – Back from my trip of a lifetime! I am not sure I can convey what a magical time we had in New York. Our planes arrived on time and Jaime met me at the airport and we got a cab to our hotel which was right off Times Square. They upgraded our room and we saw the Empire State Building out our window on the 36th floor. We were almost up in the clouds! We got in late on Thursday, both of us had eaten at the airports but we were a little bit hungry. No problem, I am the mom so I brought along homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk! We talked until three a.m. and when I woke up at 9, Jaime was still in sleep mode (she is a night person and I am a day person) so I went back to bed and dozed until she woke at 11. We had said we were not going to rush around anywhere this time, we came for dinner and a show so anything else was “if we felt like it.” So……………..we put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and stayed in our jammies and talked until around 3 in the afternoon! Still had some cookies and we had other snacks so we just munched and talked. Finally we got moving and while Jaime went and got our tickets and found a good restaurant I leisurely got ready for the evening. We went to Ruby Foo’s for an incredible dinner right on Broadway and then headed for the theater. We were at the Majestic and it is a beautiful old theater. We sat in AA 8 & 10 so were RIGHT up front. I could see over the rail into the orchestra pit! They play was amazing. It has been running for twenty years!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have seen every movie version of the Phantom of the Opera beginning when I was only around ten years old. I have always loved it and the poor phantom just breaks my heart every time. This time was no different. I was beside myself with emotion when the play ended and then………………….the whole cast came out for our final applause of course, but then………………they stayed out on the stage while the Phantom explained that beginning THAT NIGHT, all of Broadway was joining forces to raise money to combat AIDS and………………….breast cancer! They are calling it Broadway Cares! They had various items for sale to raise money and Jaime and I looked at one another in amazement! I mean what are the chances of that happening on the very night we are there at my very favorite story of all time to celebrate my birthday and the fact I have beaten breast cancer twice in the past four years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were showing all the theater type items they were selling and we could see there was a huge red ribbon for AIDS and that was what was shown last and then………………….the Phantom turned the big red ribbon around and there was a pink ribbon with the Phantom’s mask across it! Well that did it. Jaime and I just hugged each other and cried and cried. All the rest of the people in the theater disappeared and we were the only two people in existence at the moment in time. No one interrupted us, no one asked if we were okay…they just ceased to exist for the period of time we needed to celebrate that amazing moment. I am getting all weepy again just thinking about it! After the performance the actors came out into the lobby still dressed in their costumes to accept donations. Jaime got a poster signed by all of the cast and I got……………….four breast cancer pink ribbon pins with the phantom’s mask across the front, one for each of us because I would not have been there if they had not come up with that plan. Jennifer and Harold weren’t there in body but they were with us in spirit as all that was happening. Jaime and I were part of a history making event!

October 24 – Just back from my six month check-up with the Radiation Oncologist and I passed with flying colors, have to come back for another six month check up in April. I really don’t know when I go to a year with him. I am just happy that people are checking me out! I had asked him about the area where the lumpectomy was done as the scar tissue is becoming tight and hard and he said that was to be expected as that is the area in which they directed the most radiation beams. He told me how wonderful my right breast looked (his meaning is that you cannot tell that I ever had radiation there except for the thickening scar tissue) and asked about Droopy Dolly but agreed that Droopy was far better than Drippy. He said to rub and massage the scar tissue area once a day with Vitamin E cream so……………I will add that duty to my other list of things I do to take care of my precious body. He knows about the brain scan (now re-scheduled for the day after tomorrow) and had me stand up, close my eyes, stretch my arms out in front of me with my palms up and just stand there. I could feel myself swaying a bit. Then with my eyes still closed and my arms still out, he had me try and touch the tip of my nose with my index finger going back and forth from right to left. I thought I was doing fine until the nurse said to be careful and not poke myself in the eye! I didn’t feel like I was that far off target and I always found my nose but it was an odd experience. He said he noted some unsteadiness but that he also felt it was “normal” under the circumstances and also said he felt the brain scan would not show up any new problems. I certainly hope both doctors are right!

I noted something today, I now think of Polly and Dolly as my “breasts” instead of my boobs. When did that happen? Even with the two implant replacement surgeries this year and showing you what an implant looks like I am still thinking of them as breasts. I guess they have bee a part of me for so long now they are now body “family,” sort of like close friends that become family. Why did I think of that today? Who knows, these things just “come to me!” Kind of nice though, guess I am coming to terms with stuff. Of course, I am still the Keeper of the Perky Twins so some things never change!

Went to the New Balance store and got me some new walking shoes. The three mile walk for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is Saturday and I have needed new shoes for awhile so I bit the bullet and bought them. The first ones he showed me felt fine but…………they looked like old lady orthodic shoes and I was having none of that! Walking Wanda wanted a bit of style! He laughed and said he agreed with me and we went to the next higher category of walking shoe and they are better. My podiatrist wanted me to get New Balance and to get walking shoes, not running shoes, which of course come in all the cool, funky colors, as opposed to the walking shoes which are white or black. New Balance is a sponsor of Susan G. Komen and had some cool pink shoe laces and athletic wear so I got some laces and a tank top with the breast cancer logo. I told him why I needed the shoes and we got to talking and he said there were three instances of breast cancer in his family so he truly understood and signed me up for a Pink VIP program and gave me 15% off today instead of waiting for my next purchase. That was kind of him. I wore them out of the store with my pink laces, figured I better get them broken in FAST and I truly was a sight. I had on my Halloween shirt and black jeans and black earrings with my red spiky hair and when I went in I had on black shoes so everything was matching. Leaving I had on these honkin’ white sparkling clean shoes with bright pink shoelaces. They are so white they are sort of neon in appearance! I almost did get the black ones but they really looked like big boxes on my feet as opposed to little boxes for the white ones! Now why is that I wonder, black is supposed to be slimming! I just knew everyone was staring at my feet and wondering who let me out of the house looking like that and, of course……………………..I am equally sure that probably no one even noticed! Vain Vanessa was in residence!

October 25 – I just got this email from my favorite cancer info magazine and thought some of you may be interested. I have already signed myself up for all the info and for cancer patients and survivors. CURE and its new sister publication for cancer survivors, Heal, are teaming up to bring you daily breaking news coverage from the 30th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Sign up for the e-newsletter today at www.curetoday.com/eupdates

October 26 – Well, I survived the brain scan but it looks like I am going to have to take a valium and have some one go with me from now on. Panicky Pansy just sort of took over all the personas! I am a bit claustrophobic so that certainly doesn’t help things. I took a cloth with my own perfume on it to cover my eyes (so in case I am dumb enough to open my eyes and see that tube RIGHT there a half inch from my nose, and really panic) and I got headphones with my favorite radio station playing but for the first five minutes or so I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I had a button and I was so close so many times to pushing it and making her get me out of there. I could feel my heart beating hard and my breathing start to speed up and I started to count and it took me until 500 to get myself under control. My head was encased in a mask sort of thing so I couldn’t move my head and I was in there for twenty minutes (all the way in as far as my arms) and then she pulled me out, I still had to not move, while she injected me with a dye of some sort and then back in for another ten minutes. Finished, got dressed, went out to the car and promptly burst into tears. Once I got over that outburst I put on my eye make-up (you can’t wear any for the test) and set about running my errands. I was jumpy all day. I was telling a good friend about it and she told me that I did not have to be brave all the time and that it was okay to ask her to go with me. Hmmmmnnnnnnnnnnn, seems I need to follow my own advice. I know I have written just that, in earlier updates, to allow people to help you and not try and go it alone when you really don’t have to. I really thought I could do this one by myself since I had done it before but I guess my getting left by the tech during my last PET scan has scarred me for life!

October 28 – I did it! Walking Wanda actually dragged this old body around for three miles and crossed the finish line and I was not dead last either! Of course, we had to park a looooong way from the event so tack on another mile or so just to get to the start line! I was photographed crossing the finish line and I am sure it was because I looked like I barely “survived” to get to the finish! I am an artist, not an athlete but I DID IT! Had to wear the old faithful shoes though as the new ones had worn a blister on my heel and I did not need anything to slow me down. We had to be there early and in preparation for the day I had slathered Tiger Balm all over my knees and the arch of my foot to help me make it through. Poor Harold, he woke up just about asphyxiated by the fumes! Stuff works though!

I was sure I was going to go home, take off my shoes and rest for the whole of the day but that didn’t happen and my feet and knees actually held up! First Jen and I decided to stop by a Halloween store on our way home to see if they had anything that I just had to have. Nope, they didn’t! Either it was small and gross or big, expensive and gross and I like to scare the kids, not make them throw-up! Couldn’t find a costume that I thought was scarier than the one I made so I will go with that again. Later on in the day Harold took me to Home Depot and we bought the last Haunted House (really a big wide archway they have to go through to get to me) they had. It is inflatable and is only made of fabric filled with a motorized air pump and also features scary sounds. He will not be home in time to help me set up on Halloween and even though he always complains about the fuss I make he is always out there helping! The Haunted House was his idea this year because he says I will be able to put it up by myself. Of course, Jennifer is a big Halloween fan (as is my other daughter and her family!) and takes the day before and the day of Halloween off so she can help me get set up and make it scary. She is the one who directs people in through the house and follows them around making them nervous! My niece, great nephew and friends are also joining the festivities this year so we should, once again, have a great time. Halloween Hallie will be in her element once again!

November 19 – Good grief! Where has the time gone? It was just Halloween a day or two ago! I feel great, am swamped with work but having a ball with it, so….life is good!

Halloween was a great success, the best one yet! Scared the most kids this year so passed all my previous goals! Tons of friends came over so we had people here all the time. Set up the inflatable haunted house that led into a decorated tent (decorated with life size skeletons, hanging cheesecloth strips, vultures, fog machines, eerie music, strobe lights and ME! Jen was the Mistress of Ceremonies, her job was to entice kids in through the two connecting tents, Harold was in charge of indoor tours (I decorate a LOT inside, too) and a friend was in charge of the fog machines. My niece came with her son and husband and did bring her friend and her friend’s husband and kids and we have some other friends who came back from their vacation early just to join us! All the neighbors come by to see what is new. We all had such fun! Of course the Photo of the Week is a Halloween picture!

Since I am feeling quite well I will not be writing as often about myself but hope to still send along info that I come across so the education part will continue! And, of course, there is the ongoing saga of Droopy Dolly!

Okay, are you ready?

Photo of the Week – Halloween Hallie at her finest! See the red spots? That is blood dripping down! I have a heart shaped pump that activates the dripping blood!

How would you like to see this in the dark! Click on the image for a larger view.

Until next time.

Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly Keeper of the Perky Twins (at least one of them is still perky!), Leaky Louise, Busy Betty, Needful Nelda, Droopy Dolly, Walking Wanda, Vain Vanessa Panicky Pansy and Halloween Hallie!

If you have any questions please email me


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