Tag Archive | breast cancer blog

Perk # 69: Awards and Recognitions

Today I received a “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” from fellow blogger, Dor (http://notesfromtheblogusfear.com)/  , who says, “I have just lost a dear friend to cancer.  She would have so loved your blog.  You are an inspiration to many and I am giving you the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.”  Thank you, Dor, for your kind words and for considering me for this award.

I am sure that my fellow bloggers are familiar with awards such as these, which are passed through the blogosphere in chain-mail-like-fashion.  It may not rank up there with the coveted “Webby”, but I still consider it an honour to be nominated, and I am thrilled to add these badges to my site.   (And just think, now I can refer to my blog as “an award winning blog”!)

Yesterday, I received another unexpected honour in the form of a response to my blog.  If you have cancer, Dr. Siegel, or “Bernie”, as he prefers to be called, probably needs no introduction.     He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of cancer treatment, and best selling author of twelve books.   His first book, “Love, Medicine and Miracles” sold millions of copies and went to Number 1 on the New York Times best sellers list.  It also landed him appearances on numerous television programs, including Oprah, Donahue and 20/20.  (Yes folks, I said, OPRAH!)

In May 2011, Bernie was honored by the Watkins Review of London, England, as one of the Top 20 Spiritually Influential Living People on the Planet.

It is little wonder then, that I am completely over the moon that this man took the time, not only to read my “Healthy Living Challenge” for this week, but also to comment on it, and send a personal response to my private email.  You can read his comment here: (https://perksofcancer.wordpress.com/healthy-living-challenge-2/)

Thank you, Bernie, for reaffirming my belief that behaving like a survivor does indeed make a difference in recovering from cancer, and that miracles truly are possible.

Tip:  In “Love, Medicine and Miracles”, Dr. Bernie Siegel says, “There are no incurable diseases, only incurable people”.   Even if a type of cancer has only a 1% survival rate, that one person in a hundred who beats the odds could very well be YOU.  If you are looking for hope, please read Bernie’s book.

p.s.  As a condition of accepting the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”, I am required  to nominate seven fellow bloggers who inspire me.   It is difficult for me to narrow my choices to only seven, as I have met so many inspirational bloggers in the five months that I have been part of this community.  Here are some of my favourite cancer-related blogs:

Susan is a breast cancer survivor who is both smart and funny.   She shares her knowledge, research and experience as a registered nurse to present educational information relating to breast cancer and good health in general.  She blogs at www.sisterearthorganics.com

Sweet Rachel is the eternal optimist, who is capable of finding the blessings which lurk behind her cancer diagnosis.  She blogs at www.rachturner.wordpress.com

I feel a special connection to Jennifer because she and I shared the exact same chemo schedule.  While we live in different countries, the blogosphere allows us to connect and compare our stories.  She blogs at www.junojen.blogspot.com

Shanna is a sweet young woman who is one of the most determined souls I have ever cyber-met.   She is constantly coming up with new juicing concoctions, cleanses, and alternative ways of beating her cancer.  You can find her at www.existingstricky.blogspot.com

Marie is the wise one; a strong and intelligent woman who is showing us the ropes of the journey after breast cancer.   She can be found at www.journeyingbeyondbreastcancer.com

AnneMarie is making waves with her outspoken and thought provoking blog www.chemo-brain.blogspot.com

Nancy is the spunky Texan who shares the good, the bad, and the ugly of breast cancer.  Check her out at www.pinkunderbelly.com

Ladies, you can pick up your award below:

Perk # 68: Quality Time With My Girl

As a single parent, it is a rare luxury to find quality time to spend one-on-one with my three children.   Today, I am doing just that: spending the whole day with my daughter, Kaitlyn.   Kailtyn was kind enough to take a day off school to come visit me and escort me to one of my radiation appointments.   We are making the most of our time together in the city.  Last night we got dressed up, met some friends at a nice restaurant, and enjoyed a delicious seafood crepe with spinach salad.   We started today with a walk through Bowring Park, where we stopped to feed the ducks, and engage in a lively discussion on whether ducks actually have teeth. (Kaitlyn’s friend, Haley, insists that one smiled at her and she saw a distinct tooth!)

(Hmmmmm, it appears Haley was right)

Next it was off to Cora’s for a healthy brunch, followed by a mini shopping spree.   But alas, all good things must come to an end and by 5:00 I was abandoned for a “friend” who is a boy, but apparently not a “boyfriend”.

Tip:  When you are fighting the Big C, it is even more important than ever to make the most of your time with your loved ones.

Perk # 67: Cancer Made A Blogger Out Of Me

I can hardly believe that nearly a year has passed since I was diagnosed with breast cancer; a year which I can only describe as an emotional roller coaster.  Like most people when diagnosed with a life threatening illness, I underwent the typical stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.   I can almost pinpoint the exact moment that I transitioned from depression to acceptance.  It was a beautiful day in October, six months after my initial diagnosis, and my body was under assault from a difficult round of chemotherapy.   I was lying in bed, looking through the window as my mother collected the last of the summer tomatoes from my greenhouse.  It saddened me that I was not out there with her, enjoying the sunshine and harvesting the fruits of my labour.  While wallowing in self pity, I came to an important realization.  It suddenly dawned on me that feeling sorry for myself was not going to help me to get well.   As a Psychologist, I knew that positive emotions such as happiness and love, help to boost the immune system and enhance healing.  Negative emotions, such as anger and depression on the other hand, have been proven to suppress the immune system.  Since I needed a healthy immune system to fight cancer, a positive attitude was vital to my recovery!

I convinced myself that cancer wasn’t THAT bad, hey it even had its perks.  For example, since getting cancer, not once did I have to help with the dishes at big family dinners.  The thought of that made me smile, and instantly I felt a little better.   I then issued myself a challenge:  I would find 100 perks of having cancer, and so a blogger was born.

Flo the Blogger

Had I not gotten cancer, I would probably never have discovered the blogosphere and all of its hidden treasures.   Since I have always enjoyed writing, blogging became a creative outlet for me.  It also gave me a sense of purpose.  After spending nearly twenty years in the helping profession, a big part of my life was missing when I came off work.   Through my blog and the response from my readers, I know that I am still helping people, if only by making them smile.  Blogging has also connected me to so many kindred spirits.  Seeing new posts from Susan, AnneMarie, Jen, Marie, Shanna, Rachel, Nancy,  and others is like getting an email from an old friend.  I love to grab a cuppa and find out what my cyber friends are up to: how did Rachel’s scan turn out?   What is Shanna’s latest juicing concoction?  Is Jen’s hair coming in?  These people have become part of my support network as we share our highs and lows (okay, I only share my highs, but I do have my lows).   And so, today I give thanks to my blogging friends, and honour the art of blogging as one of my perks of having cancer.

Tip:  It is good to have a creative outlet when you are dealing with cancer.  Try blogging, journaling, painting, gardening, or whatever it is that lets your creative juices flow.

 

Perk # 58: (Guest Post) A Break From Cleaning Bathrooms

While in hospital for my mastectomy last week, I had the privilege of meeting other breast cancer warriors/survivors who provided real inspiration to me.  These were not fellow patients as you might think, but rather hospital staff who contributed in some way to my care.

As I was sitting just outside the operating room, waiting for “my turn”, I began to feel a little apprehensive.  From the corner of my eye, I noticed a woman approach me dressed in O.R scrubs.  She introduced herself and told me that she enjoys reading my blog.   There stood this magnificent woman, who had recently undergone a double mastectomy, and is now awaiting chemotherapy. What courage to offer support and encouragement to me as she faces this battle, in the midst of a stressful job. As I sat lamenting the imminent loss of my breast, she was the epitome of confidence and grace.  My lesson: The breasts do not make the woman.

A woman who worked in another area of the hospital shared her cancer survival story with me.  Maybe it was because I was about to lose my breast that I could not help but stare at hers.  I think I may have made her feel a little uncomfortable though, because she pulled her cardigan tight across her chest and folded her arms before saying, “These are both re-constructed.”  She didn’t have to tell me that personal detail, but she did, and her story gave me hope that someday I too will count myself among the survivors.  My lesson: Do not stare at other women’s breasts.

As I was wheeled into the recovery room after my surgery, I met another phenomenal woman; a nurse named Liz, who had some cancer perks of her own.  I asked Liz to write a guest blog post so that I could share her story with you, and I am so thankful that she did!  Liz says……….

The Willow....

 

After The Storm.

“The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier”

Sir Walter Scott.

My name is Elizabeth.  I am a mother, a wife, a nurse, and I am a cancer survivor (In that order) . I am married to a wonderful man and we have two teenage sons who can make me feel the deepest love and the most intense frustration all at the same time. I went into nursing at the age of 30, and was very fortunate to have found my calling in life. Presently I work in a Recovery Room, where I am able to meet some wonderful people who are at various stages of their cancer journey. I learn a lot from those patients and I hope in some small way that I can be of service to them, as a gift of gratitude on my part, for having been given a second chance to live my wonderful life. I recently met Florence in the Recovery Room and she invited me to share my perks of cancer, and so here I am!

In September 2008, at the age of 49, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I underwent a lumpectomy with axilla node dissection of my left breast, along with 6 courses of chemotherapy and 25 courses of radiation. I did not “battle” my cancer; it was more of a surrendering. Not an, “OK I give up” surrender, but like the willow, I recognized the great power that I was up against and decided to “bend to the tempest” (No small feat for someone who  is a control freak with  a plan A, B and yes sometimes  a plan C for everything I ever did!)

No bathrooms to clean for six months.

 For a female living with three males this is a big perk! I remember a few years ago going to watch one of my son’s soccer games. Several times the ball was kicked towards the net but invariably would go over, or to the side. One of the Dads watching said “I don’t understand, it is such a big space, how can they keep missing when they are so close?” “Funny” I responded. “That’s the same thing I think about the toilet bowl. It is such a big space, how do you guys keep missing when you are so close??”  Get the picture? The wonderful group of nurses that I worked with at the time of my diagnosis gave me a gift of money to put towards maid service, so I had someone come in once a week to clean my bathrooms, big nets and all. I thought I was in heaven!

Seeing life through rose coloured 3D glasses.

I was off work for a year while I weathered my tempest and during that time I started my spiritual journey in earnest. I had been on a road to self-destruction, both mentally and physically, prior to breast cancer and now I had the time to reflect on my life. I read books on spirituality, enlightenment, meditation, and yes…I even watched the Oprah Winfrey show. After a few months I felt empowered. My life could change into anything I wanted just by me changing my thoughts!  All those nasty chemo side effects were dealt with one day at a time, something that was manageable. I never looked too far ahead and I tried not to think too much about the things that had gone passed, it was over and done with. All my stresses melted away. I know it may sound weird but I felt better than I had for years. This was it! I HAD FOUND THE SECRET OF LIFE!!!!!

I was about ready to pack my knapsack and head to the highest peak of Mount Pearl with a “Line up here for the meaning of life” sign. Then I met a very wise cancer survivor, who pointed out to me that although right now life was tough, there were none of the usual day to day expectations and demands being made on me (another perk!) and the challenge would be to keep my positive attitude and newfound outlook on life when things got back to normal. Turns out grace took care of that for me. One day I was walking my dog in a wooded area on a beautiful winter day.  I stopped for a moment to take in the blues sky and trees with snow thick on their bows.  It was breath taking! In that complete stillness I felt love like I had never felt before. It was as if I had been wrapped in a warm blanket, accompanied with a sense of knowing that everything was going to be alright. It lasted for only a moment but that feeling stays with me today. As small and insignificant as I am in this vast universe, my Great Love is always by my side, ready with that warm blanket any time the need arises. As for those rose coloured glasses…I still wear them and only take them off occasionally to clean off life’s little smudges.

God bless you all,

Liz

Perk # 57: Cancer Made Me Value Every Birthday

Well, here I am, 45 years old today.  Where does the time go?  Seems like only yesterday I was 44.   One thing cancer has done for me is make me really appreciate my birthdays!  Never again will I complain about getting older, and these lines and wrinkles…..I’ve earned every one of them.  While many women dread the big “Five-OH” I am sure it will be the happiest birthday of my life.   I will finally be able to say that I am cancer free.

Tip: Treasure every birthday, every day, and every breath.

Perk # 56: Cancer Cured Me Of My Needle/Blood Phobia

Flo, Three days post-mastectomy

When it comes to medical procedures, I have always been a bit of a wimp.  In my early school days, I was renowned for my reaction to the public health nurse on “needle day”.   With a sense of shame, I recall actually biting a nurse and kicking a nun in the leg to escape my grade one vaccination (Sorry Nurse Pinksen and Sister Mary Kelly).   While I no longer get physically violent with medical personnel (well, hardly ever), I have been known to get weak at the sight of blood and needles.  As you can imagine, this has proven to be quite an inconvenience  during my cancer treatments.  I am happy to report however, that after being poked and prodded in places where no needle should ever venture, I have toughened up quite a bit, and can now profess that I am completely cured of my needle/blood phobia!

The true test of my new found toughness came with my recent mastectomy.  I had conjured up images of how it would be when I saw my new physique for the first time.  You know how it happens in the movies:  the woman gently caresses her flat chest, her lip quivers, and silent tears flow down her face while violin music plays softly in the background.  My experience was a little different.  My cousin/nurse, Lil was sitting in the room with me when I popped my head up and looked down at my green gown to check out my flat chest for the first time.  “Geeze”, I said, “He went and took off the two of ‘em !”   As it turns out, “rightie” had just slipped under my armpit, as is often the habit of saggy, middle aged breasts, but she was still fully intact.  Lil and I had a great giggle at my discovery.   I wasn’t sure if I was up to looking at the actual cut, but Lil is one of those old-school nurses, and she gave me little choice in the matter.   As she cleaned the incision, we counted the staples together.  One, two, three……twenty-nine.  “I guess I could round it up to thrity”, I said to Lil.  “Or you could be like a man and exaggerate it up to sixty,” she replied.  We howled with laughter!

Tip: If you can face cancer head on, nothing will ever have the power to scare you!

P.S.  A big thank you to Dr. Mathieson and his fabulous team!

PERK BREAK

The Only Difference Between A Good Day And A Bad Day Is Your Attitude.

Hello Friends!  Just a note to let you know that I will be taking a break from reporting the “perks of having cancer” for awhile.   At 9:00 a.m tomorrow, January 24th, I will be bidding farewell to my left breast and associated lymph nodes, just four days before my 45th birthday.  There’s nothing perky about that! (The breast I mean, it hasn’t been perky since my early thirties).  I am sure that during my recovery I will discover lots more perks of having cancer, so stay tuned.

I ask you to keep me, and my loved ones in your prayers as I undergo the next phase of my cancer treatments.  God Bless.