Monday, November 30, 2009

Pick up in an hour..

If my bed wasn't littered with various clothing, shoes, hats, purses, books, and computer cords, I'd be jumping up and down on it. My vacation starts in an hour. My friend Keiko is flying down from SF, and my friend Jenn is flying from NY, and we are meeting in Sayulita. Jenn lost her sister to breast cancer the EXACT day I finished radiation, and my treatment ultimately! The days are going to be spent walking the beach, sharing, hand holding, hugging, tears, ANDDDDD TONS OF FUN!!! I cannot wait. We have yoga in the morning, then surfing all day, and I mean ALL day! I may or may not write here for a while. I need to integrate again. It is good for me to take a break from the cancer stuff. But I have a hunch that this weekend is going to a mixed bag of diving into the emotional ocean, and the actual one. Salt water can heal everything.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Survey

This morning the NY times has a great article that I will attempt to post here. I have limited techy savviness. It lead me to think of my fellow Triple Negative Sisters. I posted a new forum under Talk..."How did you find yours?" I will let you know the numbers in a few weeks.
I'm off for a walk around Greenlake. Its a blustery day here in the city.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Moments Like These

It was hard to be totally in the present moment this Thanksgiving. My mind kept slipping back to the distorted memories I have of last year. I was so incredibly sick. Just trying to get through. By this time, I'd been on the journey of Breast Cancer five months. I had been on this leg of the journey by myself in many of ways. My book will have a chapter about relationships, and how for most young woman, divorce is quite common. I don't want to talk about it here, as there are too many readers, and I want to be really conscious of it. I don't want to blurt out my feelings and dishonour his. Because, I was not in his shoes. I was only in mine. In the long run, it was a blessing. Cancer brought non-actions, words, and detachments that slashed through any cord that made us strong, which made an the ending.
I think, I have so much pain in me. Why is it that in our modern living of life we think that the end is not apart of the experience? Even the word apart. It is together. It could be a part. Together. One. One experience. Silly me, for thinking I was ready to start writing my book. Or even that I was ready to sit with myself in a place to write it, when I haven't even finished the end of the race. I mean, I crossed the finish line. I ran through my pink ribbon (oh!! that's a good idea to incorporate that into rituals for woman when they are done...have I told you guys that ONE of the many things I am going to start doing for BC survivors, is creating rituals for them to do with their friends and loved ones to mark the end).
I had an incredible week with family and dear loved ones. I drove down to Eugene, and spent a lot of time thinking. I love rode trips for this reason. Tears came and went. Once I got to my little nephew, meditating on his little ears was incredibly sweet. So little. An ache or two, or three, for my absence of a little ear. I slept next to him every night, my Sis on his other side. He is such a squirm worm!! That part is easy. That part is blood. That part, doesn't hurt. It is simply love. Never~ending.
My best friend, Gen surprised me the night before Turkey day, with a call that said, "I just landed in Eugene." What!????!!! Crazy! A wonderful surprise.
I spent a day with her. She understands my depth of loss. We spent the day with our friend Renee, who lost her mom to Breast Cancer, at the age of 13. We shared lots of heart opening conversations, to the point that I just had to stop it a few times. Being reduced to a pool of tears, is not in this soldiers desire right now.
Right now, I am just trying to become whole again. I've been living alone since June, and I threw myself into the Zone Of How Much Fun Can Heather Have At a Drop of a Hat, Constantly.
I've been living in some friends house, since they're in Singapore and this house is close to downtown which was perfect for this summer. Also perfect for my daily walks down to Lake Washington. But its their house, with all their stuff, and I am now ready to rent my own place, to wrap myself up in my blankets. January 1st, I move in. Spirit really has had me in the palm of "Yes, you are right were your supposed to be" feeling since I left D, now almost five months ago. This retreat, is going to be where I become whole again. I can grab all my fragments of self, and come together. The next month, well....in just three days, I leave for a girls surf trip to Sayulita. And then I am giving myself one more month of lots of fun, interspersed with lots of counseling.
I am seeing my cancer therapist again, starting when I get back. She mentioned that she thought I had PTSD. I dislike/hate/ignore these types of names. But if I spell it out: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...Uhhmmm..ahhh...YES! What part of this year was not full and filled with this.
I need to go get the pre-cancer Heather. I need to go get cancer Heather. And then I need to get the post-cancer Heather. And cuddle with all of them on a really soft soft blanket, and do yoga with them, and dab their tears, and hear their tears, and try to comfort them. They all are in shock. To be a soldier and pass this by would be a grave mistake. I do not want to pass this opportunity up. I deserve to be still. They deserve to be still. I deserve to be in the anguish, and the pain. This is what life is about. I am always such a bright lighted and happy person. But, I just went through hell. And hell wasn't full of roses. It was horrible. Horrible with lots of medications that luckily let me be hazy and forgetful, so that I could do another dose of toxic almost kill Heather, but for sure kill the cancer stuff.
The end is here. But I need to have another ribbon to cross. To break. There will be another ceremony. Another rites of passage I did not see, nor deem needed until this moment.
This Winter will be all about me. Living by myself, for the first time. Healing myself. That starts January 1st. December....Here I come. Mexico, Girls time...Oh! Yeah! Baby!!!! Lots of fun.
I guess there is a fear in walking into the sadness into the gray, into the rainbow of grief, that I won't be happy. I have never ever ever, ever in my life been a wallower. So I probably won't wallow. But I do deserve to be with them, and me, and witness the rebirth of my new woman. There is power in this. Instead of walking through life trying to act, react, and feel in a fragmented body. That does not work.
I am excited now. It won't all be sad, Heather. It is going to be empowering. You have another mile to go.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Attention!! I AM A SURVIVOR...

I'm up at my favorite tea shop on Queen Anne hill in Seattle, at the TeaCup. I was fine, until I decided I was ready to grab all the swirling thoughts that have been dancing around me in the past few weeks, and throw them into a ball of fury here. At which point, I sit in a crowded cafe, surrounded by young hip kids my age, holding back tears as best I can.
To answer all the questions in a nut shell, I am cancer free, I am awesome, and it was simply scar tissue.

What gets me today, is this asinine news all over the front pages of our newspapers.
Being the little cancer sharer that I am, as I was sitting in a mechanic's lobby waiting for an appointment today, surrounded by young women, I said out loud in the office, "What do you all think about the news today, about not getting Mammograms and that we shouldn't be checking our boobs because of the "fear" that this process puts us through?" Quickly, all of them started talking over each other, sharing their stories with breast or ovarian cancers in their families, their fears. I was filled with despair (for only a moment, as I know how much ass I am going to kick soon) and a feeling of what can I do, to fight the insurance companies that are so obviously pushing this "fear" tactic. In my opinion trying to save monies and push us out of our right to get these tests paid for by them, that are one of our only ways of finding breast cancer.

Yes, the mammography is not a tool that is successful in finding young women's breast cancer due to our breast density. This is true. But it does work sometimes. And sometimes is better than nothing. And..And...And...oh, I am so pissed. I cannot wait until I am grounded in my health again. Smarter. Wiser. Oh, this lioness is going to shred some heads. I want so desperately to change the face of cancer. Some tall, cute, smart, healthy, organic this and that, I got it. I found it. I found it. FOlks I found it. Where was I? I was trying on lingerie at one of my favorite little shops here in Seattle. This is a quick recap of what went on in my head that day:
Wait? What is that? That is a lump. Quickly, my mind went back six months to my yearly exam. My doctor, is a breast cancer survivor, and oh..right. She hesitated here. She did. She didn't say anything. What is that? What is this? Hmmm..I let it go for a few weeks BECAUSE SHE DID. She felt it. Its probably nothing. Right? For weeks, I walked around with this knot in my chest. Then I said something to D, as I we sat on the coach. Very nonchalantly. No need to make a big deal about it right? "Hey, I found this. Can you feel it and tell me what you think?"
Luckily he thought I should go get it checked out. If I had not shown it to him, I would probably be dead of this within the next few years. You wanna now why, I say such a definitive thing like that?
I say that because CANCER IN YOUNGER WOMEN IS MORE AGGRESSIVE. It is usually Triple Negative. Negative to all the receptors: Progesterone, Estrogen, and Her2Nu (the growth hormone in all of our bodies). These are the known food choices for these other types of cancers. But mine, like most younger womens cancer's, and women that are African American and Latina, are usually known as TN..Triple Negative for the sole reason that it is negative to all the known receptors. Got it.
Yonger woman only have ONE TOOL. One tool, to save our lives. Because doctors do not look out of the box. They do not see out of the box, even though they may EVEN BE BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS, THEMSELVES.
The box is this: Women under 40 do not get breast cancer. It is a rare 11,000 that do a year. I was one of 11,000.
We only have self-examinations. Without this, small and effective tool, there will be more younger woman dying. Already, as it is WE women under 40 years young, have a higher mortality rate. It is beacause, there are no known effective tools for our diagnosis, doctors do not send us to get checked out as often as they should when a lump is discovered, choosing instead to act like God. If I had not found mine that day, I would have quickly become a stage 2.
My lump was found at 1.8 cm's with no node involvement. My survival rates are much higher because of this. Stage 2, with node involvement or anything higher than 2 cm's, is a whole different story. Mortality rates change very quickly. That could have easily happened, before my next yearly appointment (and that is IF, they doctor chose to look out of the box at this appointment). By then, I could have been a stage 3. With mortality rates, much much much higher. As it is, when I drive down the road I like to look at all the little cars and think of my stats, being a Stage 1, I have a 1 in 6 chance that my cancer is going to come back. Look around you right now. For every 6 people around you, one of them would die. These stats are horrible. How would you like to live with that as part of your life? How would these insurance companies, these doctors, these whoever they are that are pumping out this crap advice, how would they like it if their young daughters had these odds? Simply because they did not check their breasts? Simply because the only tool we have, and they have was ignored for the comfort of sometimes needless inquiries and mammograms showing there was no cancer.
An opportunity to say, you know what, you do not have cancer. You did what you should have. You checked your breasts every month, you noticed a change. And that yes, we will do a Mammogram, and if needed an UltraSound, to now tell you dear:daughters, dear sister, dear wife, dear granddaughter, dear niece, dear friend, that you do not have cancer. Here wipe your tears here on our sleeves, that was scary. But you are healthy, you are fine. What is so wrong with this? The odds are so random. But I was that odd. I deserve to live. I deserved to not have been overlooked. I deserved my doctor sending me to get an Mammogram, but she didn't. Most young women have not found the voice that I have. I could have listened to everyone but D, who insisted I had nothing to worry about. I could have put it off. I would have died of this. As it is, I could still die of this. Cancer, sucks. It does. I want to live. I want to grow old. Luckily I did breast exams. Luckily I tried lingerie on that day.
When will the persecution of women end? When will be honoured, and cared for? When will we be held high and believed just as worthy of living? I am furious. I am in shock.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Plans for the future

Nothing is better in the whole wide world, than all the love that has been directed to and for me this past year. I am in bed right now with Keiko, dreaming and planning a surf trip just for us girls. It is a wonderful thing to start planning something. To be able to get out of the present moment, and know that I am going to be healthy enough to do a trip. I feel confident that it is just scar tissue, since Dr. Clarfeld said so, and since the MRI and tumor markers are low!
Keiko and I were quite surprised at how quickly my body bounced back from this surgery. Keiko kept saying to me, and not until the third time did it sink in..but she said," Heath, your body is so much healthier now. Look, you bounced back so quickly." I was sleepy, but not like the prior surgeries. I was not sick at all, and had a really nice night. I turned off my phone, and let her talk to everyone for me. I sure have learned how to take care of myself, and to allow people to take care of me. Thank you cancer for that one! The old Heather was always doing and thinking, and doing some more for everyone else.
Off to eat a yummy raw breakfast of Chia seeds, and raspberries!

Friday, November 13, 2009

POst op

I am good. Dr. Clarfeld said, "It looks Like Scar Tissue" as he leaned over and gave me a hug. Aaahhhhh...I am a lucky girl. Whose surgeon KICKS ASS, and is so full of integrity and love for is career. Blessed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughts for Today

I managed to fill pretty much every waking hour doing a massage today. Giving a total of 5, so that’s good. Driving to the island this morning, I just started crying and I cried all the way across the Sound, onto the island, and then all the way to my clients house to Maury Island.
Crying because I thought about how easy it is for anyone other than a Survivor to tell me that I should, and usually with a capitol SHOULD do chemo again. Its easy for a non-Survivor to say YOU CAN DO IT. When noone in my life, not a single person was with me for all the hell. The depth of despair, the fearful nights alone, the endless egg and toast, the endless doctor visits, each and every single radiation appointment I had to endure. I did just say, RADIATION. For some reason going through this whole thing, numbed me. And maybe, even has numbed you as a reader since you’ve been following me on this journey for over a year now.
So, I wrote someone close to me a letter today. And told that person, to not tell me that I should or shouldn’t do anything anymore. If that person really wants to be there for me, then be there. Allow me, the Survivor, the one who has to be alone during this hellish fight for my life, the respect to support my decision. To respect my choices. And to not judge me, when I say I am exhausted, and if this is cancer, #1 and #3 are still only looking good to me.
I am scared. I was good for a few days. But then I felt the lump again, and its hard, and it freaks me out. My friend Keiko is flying in tomorrow morning to be with me, and I just can’t wait to snuggle in bed and watch movies. I am really sad.
Last night I found out that a dear massage client of mine, was diagnosed with Breast Fucking Cancer. I was numb as I spoke with her. I was in soldier mode. I heard her soldier, I heard her questions, I heard her beginning the digging deep, I heard that she is still reeling, I heard me coming out of my shock induced comma to finally extend a true and honest and brave hand to her. Its time to get over this hurdle, and to join up with my beloved sisters and brothers in Cancer and start supporting the newly diagnosed and telling them what no other can do. I can look them in the eye, and tell her, that she will, (I know you are reading this dear J) but you will get through this. You can and you will. This time is for and only about you. Dig deep. Its gonna be a hellish ride, but you my love, will make it through.

Surgery tomorrow. Results next week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tools of the Trade

Okay, everything is going to be fine..I'll just blurt that out first because I know you all are wondering. And then I can explain. haha!

As I was driving to my appointment today Tamara said, "What were your tumor markers?" Well...I'd been putting off finding them out because at the end of the day, finding out before I got the surgery was going to either bring a HUGE smile to my face or freak me out even more. I was with T, so I called and found out the very awesome news that they were the lowest they've been since this whole ordeal started, a whopping 11.5. Just to give you an idea I was a 28 at diagnosis. And doc's don't really look at anything over 30 something when doing these counts, but would notice if mine were going up and up, closer to the 28 numba. But mine, are low right now, and that makes me super super super happy. Inside. Somewhere. The little hippie girl, the little girl that likes to jump rope and sing songs, the little girl in me that likes to hide behind a corner and jump out and scare my sister, that girl...was jumping up and down today when I heard that news.
But the athlete in me, the soldier in me, well she said to that happy girl, "chill out. its just a tool. A tool that can have false positives."
So...I became both girls grinning and saying to Tamara, "Its good, its good, but I can't get too excited." Just like Clarfeld, the Rock Star surgeon said to me today. These are all tools. The tumor marker test, the MRI, the yadda yadda....this and that. I get to be monitored with all these great technological tools and then, its my job to notice a change. Which I did. Which I noticed and that is why I am set for surgery for this friday. My friend Maryam is bringing me, and my friend Keiko is flying in and will be with me when I wake up. I really want my sis to be there, but that all changed when I found out I will not be getting the test results until Wed, possibly Tuesday. No need for her to be there, until then. And really, if it is cancer, which I doubt highly in this moment, then...she'll come....with NOLAN!!!!!!! How is it that I love my nephew more than her? Like he is this extension of her that is my most favoritest thing in the entire world and galaxy. Smile..smile..

I cancelled my appointments tonight, and am reflecting on this mile stone. I am learning how to be a survivor. This is huge. I am proud of myself, I say laughing full of a few measly sips of Rose, and am already giggling drunk. I am happy in this moment, I am full in this moment, I have so many friends that I love so incredibly deeply, and I am excited that this is one of those stones that I get to plant in the ground and look back someday in the near future and say to myself, "Wow! That was super scary, and look at how I dealt with that. Look at all the friends that lifted you up in your time of despair." I also cannot wait to be whole again, and turn and give all this energy, all this spastic love for life that I have with all my Survivor wisdom and give it to the newly diagnosed ones, and hold them in their despair and look them boldly in the eye, and say, " You my Love, will get through this."

I am victorious in spirit, bold in my moment, and blissed out in love.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The blank space

My mind is kind of filled with nothingness the past few days. Kind of just not sure what to do, what to think, how much to plan for, how little to plan for, so I just don't. Tomorrow, is the end or the beginning.
As I see it, its 1%. But I was that 1% once already. And it got me, that time. Its easy for people to say not to worry, but really, what is there to worry about. In the end. Its death anyways. That day that it is.
I have three options.
1. Its not cancer, and I get to go on living my little survivor life.

2. It is cancer, and I do treatment

3. It is cancer, and I do not do treatment.

I am heavily leaning to day for #1, or #3.

Mainly because I've already hit it as hard as I can the first time, I couldn't even finish all the chemo's. K, said, "you are done," So done I was. I much rather live my life as healthy and happy and feeling good with the occasional flu/cold then be sick as death again. No thank you. Once was enough.

So, I am leaning for those two. The shock that I was diagnosed with it in the first place takes away my positive thought ability, and leads me into the, WTF reality of possibility. (for those of you older folks that are not down with the WTF, it means what the fuck).
Okay. I didn't write about this little lump at all on here for a long while, I didn't talk to anybody about it for a long while, and now its out. I needed to be real about it. Kindof like the first time. I found it. Sat with it for a while. Then oh so casually mentioned it, to He who will not be named. This time, it started out not feeling like it did the first time. But months later, like 4 months later, it feels like that again.
Okay, enough talking about it. I'll know soon enough.
I am going to take a whole sleeping pill tonight. Not a half.
You know, if it is cancer, I had an incredible summer. I really did. I think, if I do have surgery to remove it, I'll wake up in that groggy place and my surgeon will say, cancer or no, and if it is cancer, I'll immediately ask for (I should ask prior to surgery for this to happen) but if it is, then I am just going to ask to be knocked out on drugs for a week. I need to. My brain will need to. And then, I can look at my two options. Sick and see how long I live, or Live as long as I can as long as I can...Mmmm..kindof sounds like a no brainer to me.

On a happier note, I get to see my nephew in a few weeks, and I am really excited for that.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Don't push the Panick Button

I've been talking to all my dear friends/family today and its interesting hearing myself talk. Its kind of strange. How when I talk to one person I might be laughing, and the next not even be audible because of me crying. Wasn't it just the other day that I was telling my little soldier it was safe? I heard myself tell my adopted Uncle George today, that maybe this is just the life of a survivor for the first few years. Or maybe its just like this for a Triple Negative the first few years, because my odds go back to a normal persons after two more years. I've already put one behind me. I say that, as I feel the hard lump. That is what it is. I don't know, and all I have to go with so far is the technology that said its 99% sure its nothing.
I wish I could see my Surgeon today. Monday is a long way away. My friend Tamara is coming with me. My X, used to get upset when I'd ask him to go with me. He'd say, "Why do I need to be there?" But what people don't understand is that when you are freaked the hell out, my mind goes blank and its all you can do but to listen and try to ask questions. So, Tamara is going and she'll fire away at all the questions for me. If I forget. Maybe it'll be a really good visit. Maybe he'll show me my MRI and say, yep there it is. And nothing to worry about, simple scar tissue.
This is sucky. Sucky Ducky.
Well, I'm off to do a few massages and a wee bit of real estate. Its a perfect fall day here in the PNW. The trees are in their splendid glory of shifting colours and its raining.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

He agreed

Well, I just left my Onc's office, and he agreed that it does feel different, and he called my surgeon. He told me, that the MRI is 99% accurate, so I only have 1% chance that it is cancer. I like those odds. My initial appointment with my favorite surgeon is on Monday, early AM. I wonder what he'll say?
That's all I have for you, for me. To sit in this moment, and wait until Monday. I am not going to worry about it anymore. Actually, the little MRI stat he gave me took away a lot of my fear. It probably is just scar tissue. I'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Panic?

I am home, trying to multi-task with all my bazillion ways to be in touch with folks online, and all I can do is keep bringing my mind/self back to the present moment, because it keeps racing ahead and freaking out about tomorrow. I wonder if there will be a time that I don't freak/panic out the day before my "check-up" appointments. I wish my sister lived here, so I could sit in her lap and hold her hand. Of coarse, little Nolan would be in her lap, so I'd have to sit next to her ( I say with a smile).
Thoughts that race through my head and not listed in order are:

1. What if the lump is cancer
2. Would I do chemo again
3. What if it disappears and I can't find it
4. Maybe I should put lotion on my boob like I did, when I found it. Would that be weird to do in front of my Oncologist? No, probably not. (Now, you gotta laugh at that one)
5. As I was getting my mani and pedicure today, I thought, "maybe this is the last one I'll be able to get for a while." Because, maybe I'll have to start treatment again.

It is very hard to stop this senselessness and bring myself into the present moment. Breathing is a good thing. In and Out. My mind sometimes feels like a wild horse, and I just put a loop around her neck, and yank her firmly, but gently back. Whhhooaaa...there!
So, all I know is that my last three month check-up I had him feel it. Or somewhere around there. I need him this time to feel it again, and to make a biopsy of it, or to at least show me in the MRI that it is there, but not cancerous. Phew. It sucks living so far away from my sister's hand. I'd squeeze it really hard right now. Can you feel it, Wendy? : )

Monday, November 2, 2009

Time to start the recovery

I am list maker, and here will be a simple list of my To Do's that I need to do for me. I am listing them here, because they will be out of the hat...

1. Call Cancer Talky-Talk Therapist~ make appointment

2. Call Fred Hutch and find out their post-cancer cleansing routine

3. Talk to my Onc about who and where he recommends I go to do the cleansing routine

4. Call my Cancer ND and ask what their routine is for cleansing

5. Call my old ND and ask her who she saw when she was done with chemo


Okay, the list is made. The list I've been putting off. Its time to stop holding my breath. I've been asked a few times if this blog is going to have an ending. I've put a lot of thought into that, and this is what has come to me, in a story form of coarse.

A few months ago, I would tell people, "Wow! I am back! I am seriously back to Heather! I feel great!!" But in reality, a week later, I would feel even better, and more whole. Three months later, I can tell you that I "100% feel like Heather, now." But really, do I? I am coming to realize just how hard this was for me. I got done with treatment, left my husband when I was healthy enough, and then had a summer of reconnecting with the Heather I have always known. Seeing all my friends and loved ones. There was an intense celebration, at the end of the finish line.
Like my friend said to me the other day, that has run 6 Iron Man's, he explained to me how he felt at the end of one. As he was running the last two miles, the sheer energy from the crowds was enough to catapult him to the finish line, at which point he collapsed into the arms of the two volunteers.
I think its my athlete in me that keeps comparing what I just went through to some sport, but there are so many similarities. I got to the end of the finish line, had a party, and now, I need to heal. I need to let my muscles and my mind, come back to a non-fatigued, state.
And so, this process, this ending, this last chapter of my journey to health, well...I'm still on it. Its just as much a part of it as any other part so far.

I do feel great. But there are times in my Hummingbird self, that are blue. That are sad. I lost a lot. Mmmm... A better way to look at that I think is, I surrendered a lot. It was a choice. Yes, I like that much better. So readers, I will be writing for a while longer.
I am contemplating turning this blog into a book, as is. Many of you have requested just this. I poo-poo'd the idea. But am starting to see it.

Off for a run. I get to go for a run! Yipppee!!