Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ENOUGH

Today our breast cancer community lost another beautiful woman to this miserable disease.

Her name was Cheryl, but we called her Cy. She is survived by a husband and two daughters, and loving siblings, especially a sister Charlie who never left her side.

Naturally this is yet another devastating loss. For those who knew Cy, I want to honor her a way I know she would be proud of. After today's heartbreaking news, many have wanted to walk away from all of this and pray it just goes away. I know I have.

I know I have.

But I know it won't and I know cancer will always be a part of my life and I really don't know how I would have gotten through this past year without all of you.

I am mad as hell right now. I hate this beast so much.

I have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow.

Normally I get pissed because he is so busy that he doesn't take that much time to explain things. He is busy because aside from treating patients he is conducting all these clinical trials and finding better chemos to treat us with.

So tomorrow I am going to say to him, "Let's keep this short and you get back out there and FIND OUR CURE."

The BEST way we can honor our dear lost sisters is to make sure they didn't die in vain. They fought so hard and long. I personally want to shove every pink ribbon down the throat of every marketing manager who has hijacked our disease and turned it into some pretty pink fairy tale.

IT AIN'T PRETTY.

Starting right now, I will be more proactive in making sure the PEOPLE WHO NEED OUR MONEY GET IT. And those people are the researchers in labs across this country who have in a tiny test tube the key to unlock the door that gets us the hell out of this cancer prison.

That is how I am going after the beast and avenge the deaths of our beautiful sisters.

With each sister that we lose, my resolve grows deeper.

I will be goddammed if I am going to sit on the sidelines and keep watching my friends disappear.

For myself, I am going to push for scans, take the drugs, have the surgeries and do whatever my onc can throw at me to make sure the beast doesn't gain an inch. And if it does again, I will fight it again.

I will never forget a car I saw two years ago at a shopping center. It was driven by a man and it had two young kids in it. He was just packing them all in and obviously struggling with them. You could tell there was something amiss, that something was terribly wrong with the picture. When he drove away I saw it. He had a Breast Cancer Awareness license plate that simply said "ENOUGH"

ENOUGH IS RIGHT

I am going to cry my tears and mourn our losses and then I am getting back on the field and help the researchers fight for every breakthrough we can find. If it means pissing off the pink ribbon brigade... so be it.

Our Cy donated her body to scientific research to hopefully help find a cure or find a pathway that will help lead the way to better testing and treatment. Even in death, she is still fighting the fight.

For all our Warrior Angels I hope you will join me. When it gets to be too much to bear and you just want to hide away, remember we are fighting not only for ourselves and for our sisters who have gone before us, but we fight for those two little kids in that car and every daughter and granddaughter who will come after us.

Will you join me?





Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Secret

I have discovered something new.
From now on I think if we all apply this new technique we will all be so much happier.
It is our version of "The Secret"

Let's face it, it couldn't hurt!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'm Okay

As I sit here writing this I am marveling at those two words, I'm OKAY. I guess because I really mean it.

Exactly one year ago today, on February 7th, at 8 AM, a radiologist telephoned me and simply said, "all three." I knew what she meant. She was telling me that all three of the tumors in my breast were positive for cancer. I was still in bed when I took that call. I remember hanging up the phone and just lying there very still. I remember how quiet the house was. I remember not feeling I needed to bolt out of bed and start ringing the alarm bell.

I leaned back on my pillows and thought, so it is back. You see, this time wasn't the first time for me. I knew my enemy now. It was so unlike that day six years ago when I stepped out of my real life and into Cancerland forever.

Cancer survivors live in shear terror every day, whether consciously or subconsciously, that they will hear that their cancer has returned. It is something I had spent the previous five years dreading to hear. When a close friend's cancer returned she sent me an email that simply read, "the other shoe" and I knew exactly what she meant.

I laid in bed and let it sink in and my mind traveled back to my boot camp days of five years ago, where I had to learn everything there was to know about cancer in 48 hours or less. This time I made a vague list in my head: call surgeon; call oncologist; going to have to get the rest of the report from the radiation doctor; what type of cancer was this...last time I didn't know there was more than one type of breast cancer...and then I thought maybe I should get up and start my day.

Which I did... and I started all my other days after that armed with the knowledge I had accumulated in the five years of being a survivor. I wanted it out. I wanted what ever chemo I had to do. I was ready to get back on the cancer bus. Except for one thing. I took this one very personally. I could see the Beast smugly smiling at me thinking he got me again... maybe for good? Not if I have anything to do with it.

And I have been fighting the Beast back since that day. Today, I have completed all the chemo, nine months worth, a bilateral, immediate recon, and will finish radiation in about a week. I still have more things to do but it is definitely easier from here on out.

I was adamant about one thing last year. I was damned if I was going to let cancer ruin last spring and last summer and make me a "sick" person. Many people thought I was being unrealistic. But I kept up. No one who lives around me would have any idea anything had changed in me. My hair stayed long, my breasts actually looked better, I purposely planted a garden twice the size of the old one...basically, I lived.

I don't ever want to be considered "the one with cancer" because that is not who I am. I am the one who is living who also fights cancer every five years or so.

I am blessed in that I was not diagnosed with metastatic disease. I am blessed for all the knowledge I am armed with, because I know the enemy I am not afraid of it any longer.

Thank you, all of you, for the tremendous amount of help, support, love and guidance you gave me. I don't travel alone on this journey and I am blessed to have had that first cancer five years before this one because now, as my friend Ferne say, I've got people.

The bottom line is- I am truly OKAY. I made it through all of it and now I am on the other side.

If you are new and reading this blog for the first time and are feeling lost and scared- I can tell you honestly that it does end and you do get your life back.

I am living proof. I had it twice and made it through both times. YOU can too.

Thank you to all who held me up though this journey. My cup runneth over.