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!
Before I go driving anywhere with my teens, I am sure to hear one of them yell, “Shotgun!” This statement gives the person saying it the privilege of sitting in the front seat of the vehicle. I assume the expression originated in the days of the covered wagon, when the person sitting next to the driver carried a gun for protection, and therefore was known to be riding shotgun.
Since getting cancer, I don’t even have to call “shotgun”. No matter how many people are packed into a vehicle, I automatically get the coveted spot. Even Mom, with her bad knee, will climb into the back of a two door vehicle so that I can ride shotgun. It may be a small perk of having cancer, but it is a perk all the same.
Tip: Perks such as riding shotgun may be a small bonus when you have cancer, but each of these conveniences makes life a little easier, so take advantage of them while you can.
I have finally come around enough after my last chemo to get back into shopping mode. I think I may have gone a little hog wild though, spending my “hundreds” like there’s no tomorrow. It all started with a new Nikon camera, which I decided to gift to myself for Christmas. Shawn gave me “the look” and said, “Darlin’ are you really going to pay that much for a camera?” And my sombre response was, “Now Shawn, I could be dead this time next year, so I am not depriving myself of a good camera!” (Not that I really think I am going to be dead this time next year, or the year after for that matter, but it didn’t leave a word in his mouth!) Next it was off to the Bath and Body shop at the Avalon Mall. As I loaded the packages onto Shawn’s arms he said, “What are you going to do with all of this stuff?” And my response was, you guessed it, “I could be ……” “Stop”, he yelled, “Don’t even say it!” Did I really need another pair of black boots? Well, ya know, I could be dead this time next year………..
Tip: There’s nothing like a shopping buzz to lift a weary spirit. If you feel well enough to shop, treat yourself to something new.
I just hate that feeling of standing at the banking ATM waiting for my passbook to up-date. The more “ch-ch-ching-ching’s” I hear from the machine, the more nervous I get, knowing full well that those transactions are stacking up under “withdrawal” column. Then there is that moment of anticipation, as I hold my breath and scan the bottom line hoping not to see the dreaded “-“ sign.
Luckily, since my chemo started, I have experienced a phenomenon called “Bank Account Recovery”. Each chemo knocks me down for at least a week to ten days, days that I am rendered unable to shop. I have been pleasantly surprised at the reduction in my banking transactions, and the resulting bottom line. Folks, I’m not kidding you, since getting cancer, I have literally HUNDREDS of dollars in the bank! Now that chemo has ended, I think it may be time to treat myself to a little shopping spree.
Tip: On those days that you are not well enough to shop, consider it money in the bank.
It is December 15th and I have NO Christmas shopping done. There’s not a present to be found in this house (except for Santa’s gifts to my children). And the strange thing is, I am as cool as a cucumber about it. After all, who is going to say anything if they don’t get a present from me this year? I mean really, how would it look if you complained that your sister/friend/girlfriend/daughter with CANCER did not buy you a gift? So, call me a Scrooge if you will, but you are only going to make yourself look bad.
Tip: Christmas shopping can add unnecessary stress to your life when you are dealing with cancer. People will understand if you take a year off. (And if they don’t, they are only making themselves look bad.)
And the Oscar for best supporting actress in the role of dog lover goes to (drum roll please…..)
I was recently interviewed about my blog by the NTV Evening News, and believe it or not, it made me feel like a real movie star! Although they aired only about a three minute clip on the program, the whole production took well over an hour to film. The interview part was real, but I will let you in on a secret, I was pretty much acting for the rest of it. Me gazing out the window with a wistful look on my face: acting. Me holding up a smoothie and saying “cheers”: acting. Me playing with my dog Patches and looking lovingly into her furry face: big time acting. Now remember, I do love and appreciate Patches, but I certainly don’t appreciate her up licking at my face (especially after seeing what she was licking before my face). But don’t you agree, I looked like a natural in the attached news clip! Which is why I think I should be nominated for an Oscar. Oh, gotta run, I think that might be the paparazzi outside my door….never mind, it’s just Jordan with the newspaper.
Link to NTV Evening News Interview: http://ntv.ca/video/?p=18695
Tip: If cancer is getting you down, let your imagination go wild! Pretend you are a famous actress, a country superstar, or the next Pope, whatever turns your crank. Whether you have these experiences for real, or just imagine them, the same “feel good” hormones will course through your body.
Last night, I attended a Christmas dinner with my sister, Juana and BFF, Jackie. Everyone was dressed in their finery and the compliments were whizzing by like bullets: “You look awesome”; “Love your dress”; “Looking great!” At one point, a lady turned to me and said, “You must be getting sick of people always telling you how good you look.” I thought about it for a moment and said, “Naw!”
Even when I look like my “Before” picture, I still get showered with compliments everywhere I go in my small town. Now come on folks, I know deep inside that when people say, “You look great”, they mean “For someone with cancer”, but hey I’m 44, I’ll take what I can get. Yeah, I’m really going to miss those compliments when I recover.
Tip: If you have cancer, get used to people commenting on how you look, and learn to graciously accept a compliment. A simple “thank you” will suffice.