Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let's talk about Tamoxifen...

Since last September, I have been prescribed Tamoxifen.  It's an estrogen blocker and because my breast cancer was fed by estrogen, this is a good thing.  The not so good thing:  I'm not a fan of some of the side effects, especially the "may cause depression, nervousness, and anxiety"...and how about being impatient with everyone I come into contact with?  I could easily cry right now thinking about how irritable I am sometimes.  I have not always been great with my monthly hormones, and now with this lovely hormonal therapy, it's a continuous cycle.  

This past week, I nearly had a meltdown because of a bump on my leg.  I immediately thought of the possibility of a blood clot (another side effect).  I went to the doctor's and after she couldn't definitively say it wasn't one, I thought I was going to lose it.  Thankfully I held it together, went for a test and all is fine.  

Wah, wah...that's it....I needed to whine about it, but now I'm moving on, and because I've publicly announced my irritability, I'm hoping I become more accountable and really try to knock it off.  I don't want to use the medicine as an excuse for my feelings and behavior, but it is probably a reason behind it.  I'm trying to change it though, I really am.

By the way, I never actually checked the list of side effects because knowing me I will probably get them all if I read through them.  I ask others to check the list for me and see if certain things are on there.  So please, stay away from the list, and whatever you do, don't share it with me.

Family and "friends can put up with your worst behavior and be exceptionally affectionate even when you are extremely irritable. They believe in you even when you stop believing in yourself. They accept you with all your flaws and love you just the way you are.. "

Gosh, I hope this to be true...otherwise I'll be all by myself by the time I finish taking this medicine in five years.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

DIY: Large "Bottle cap" magnets

I can't walk into Target without stopping at the dollar bins.  I found these bottle cap coasters a few weeks ago and grabbed several packages (I think there were 6 in a package for $3.00)  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, but I bought them anyway.  

I decided to turn them into magnets.  A little paint, a piece of scrapbook paper, a photo, some washi tape and magnets and I had myself an adorable new magnet.  The last photo shows the comparison with a typical sized bottle cap...these things are big!

I decided to have the kids each decorate one for their daddy for Father's Day.  It's a handmade gift and it was quick, even better!   (sorry for the terrible photos)

The possibilities for these lovely "coasters" are endless.  I suppose you could actually use them as a tacky place to rest your beer, but why would you want to do that? I think I'm going to try making a wind chime with them next.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finding rainbows...

A couple days after I wrote the post about my memere, there was a beautiful double rainbow outside.  Do you think that is coincidence?  I'm sure some would say "yes", but I can't help but think and hope that my mem had something to do with it. 

  I had trouble getting the double with my lens (the first picture was taken with my phone) and the pictures don't do it justice, but it was an incredible sight to see. 

And then yesterday when I went for a walk, there was another beautiful rainbow, made even more vivid when I looked through my sunglasses.

"Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray."

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Mem...

Two and half weeks ago I went to visit my Memere.  I thought it would be the last time.  She really wasn't doing well and many thought she wouldn't be with us too much longer.  It turns out that by the time I got there, she was her spunky self, even cracking jokes about how she had "almost died" that afternoon.  When we blew each other kisses at the end of the visit, I thought that would be my last memory of her.  

In some ways it was the last time I saw her, because when I saw her this past Monday, she was different than the Memere I have known for the past 40+ years of my life; she was thin, weak, and tired.  She still showed some signs of her spunky 92 year old self, but she was fading.  When my dad and I walked into the room, her face lit up and she grinned a big smile from ear to ear, making the emotionally painful visit so worth every second.  Throughout our stay she asked us to keep talking because she couldn't, and even though she would fall asleep, we did try to keep talking.  At the end of our visit, I kissed my memere, and told her "I love you".  I didn't really expect her to say too much back.  Not only did she respond verbally, she proceeded to wrap her 92 year old arms around me and hugged me.  

That is now my last memory of her and I am so grateful that I have it to tuck away in my heart along with the countless others.   Early this evening, she earned her wings.  I'm certain my grandfather, her Wally, was there to greet her at the gates of heaven so that they could dance; it's been about 30 years since they have been able to do that together.

Some may think that because Memere was 92, it makes it easier to say goodbye.  "She lived a long life".  Yes, she did and that's just it.    My memere has always been there for every birthday, graduation, wedding, christening, and every other celebration.  She loved a good party and loved it even more when the party was for her.  She was proud that she was 92 years old and still lived in the house where she raised her five children, made meals for her brothers and sisters, sewed clothing for her grandchildren and served cookies to her great grandchildren.   

Mem, I will miss your "subtle" hints and your distinct "well!" when something ruffled your feathers.  I will miss bringing my kids to your house on Halloween and they will miss going for a walk to get a treat from their gran-memere with cookies.  I will miss your smile and your laugh.  I will miss our visits together, our conversation and your advice.  I will miss your always kind, affectionate words to me.  I will miss your love.  I will miss you.  

Mem frequently said, "There ain't nothing so bad, that something good doesn't come out of it."  Although this may be true, it is sometimes hard to find the rainbow.  But, my memere would assure us that it's there.  

May the angels lead you to paradise Mem,  I love you!  

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."  ~Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


These pictures of Little Miss make me happy. 

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

By the way, tonight I was looking through old posts.  This was what I wrote on this same day last year.  What a difference a year makes. :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Experience, the greatest of teachers.

Honestly, I haven't read too much about Angelina Jolie and her recent decision to have a double mastectomy.  I have had enough about the whole breast cancer thing to last me for quite some time.  I have first hand experience.  

My mom came across this article and she thought it was worth the read.  I agree. 

Before being diagnosed with breast cancer, I had always said I would definitely "just" get rid of them if I had to, no question.  It's easy to say this hypothetically, but it became a whole new ball game when I was faced with this hard reality first hand.  I immediately began to mourn the potential loss of my body the way I had known it.  Before my surgery I cried a lot over what the future would hold for me and especially what it would hold for my relationship between my husband and I.  Let's face it, we all want to feel attractive, and how was I ever supposed to feel okay with myself with half my chest missing, with my formally symmetrical self gone?  

By the time my surgery came, I think I had processed so many of my feelings already that seeing myself was less of a shock.  I accidentally got a glimpse of myself in the hospital and I did not shed a tear.   It was actually better than I expected.

I am able to blend in with society because of the glorious world of prosthetics.  Most of the time I am able to participate in daily activities without giving any thought to the fact that I am missing something I had for most of my life.  I can function normally, exercise, wear tank tops, and even a bathing suit.   I do have to think about what I wear and there are still some things that now do not "work" on my new body, but things are good, it's gotten easier. My husband and I are just fine.  He's a good guy, has loved me through this and we continue to grow stronger in our relationship with each passing day.  

Don't get me wrong, I have had my moments, and I still do.  Losing part of your body sucks and for me it's been an ongoing battle with my self esteem and feeling like a complete person emotionally although my physical being is changed.  It would be nice to be physically complete in my pajamas, in the shower, or while waiting for a mammogram.  It would also be great to walk in the store and be able to buy a new shirt without wondering if the V-neck will cut too low. These are some motivating factors for reconstructive surgery.

Sometimes I feel silly for even feeling bad for myself about it.  I mean, really, I didn't lose a limb.  

At the same time, I feel guilty that I didn't have more empathy for those who faced this reality before me when I thought that I would "just" get rid of them.  So, to all of you that came before me, I apologize for not getting it, now, I do.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Things are not always what they appear....

I have to admit that when people refer to me as strong or as an inspiration, I feel like I need to deny the title and correct them.  This morning when I woke up, I was filled with anxiety; perhaps it has something to do with my 10:30 mammogram appointment, my lack of sleep because I pulled an all-nighter at the relay, my very ill grandmother, or my child that is having some trouble behaving these days.  Maybe it is all of the above.  The thing is most days I have fleeting thoughts in my head but I am able to squash them pretty quickly.  Today, however, they are a little harder to squash.   For a short period of time this morning I even managed to convince myself that my body was filled with the Big C.  Irrational and scary thoughts sometimes manage to creep in and take over.  I do my best to rid my mind of them, but often I have to seek help from others in order to do so.  

Sometimes I feel like I may give the impression that I have it all figured out, but I don't.  Does anyone really have it all figured out?  Today I barely feel like a functioning human, never mind an inspiring one.  When I was sitting with my other grandmother the other day, I came across an article about Robin Robert's.  She too was commenting on the uncomfortable feeling she got when people say she is strong.  She said, "What was I supposed to do?  I want to live."  Yup!  That's pretty much the situation.   Choosing to put one foot in front of the other really seems to be the only option.  And so that is what I will do, today and every day.  I will get up and face the day with whatever courage I have; today it's just a little bit harder than usual.  Perhaps I'm having another momentary Fall from Grace.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.