Posts tagged breast cancer
Posts tagged breast cancer
Got this today.
Many thanks to my dude for putting this one on me.
So many people had a hand in my being able to wear this.
I’m humbled and honoured by you all.
“In the world of cancer patients it’s a very significant date, and for me personally, it was the most important date in my life, more important than any birthday or any holiday. No victory or loss could compare to it.”
That quote is from Lance Armstrong in his book It’s not About the Bike. He’s talking about the anniversary of his diagnosis date.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on September 1, 2011. This Saturday marks my 1 year anniversary of that date. The closer it gets to that date, the more I find myself reflecting on it. I was talking about it with my boyfriend, last night, over dinner. I think it’s a natural desire to be sad when this date arrives - and there are moments where I tear up as I reflect - but, at the same time… I can’t help but think of what has been accomplished over this past year.
I like the way Lance talks about it in his book:
“Kik calls my anniversary Carpe Diem Day, to remind us to always seize the moment. Every year we spend that day celebrating our existence. We remind ourselves that it’s a myth to say that I beat cancer. The drugs beat cancer. The doctors beat cancer. I just survived it.”
For as awful as the experience was for me, I’m still here. By god, I’m still here. Tomorrow night I get to watch my youngest son perform in the high school marching band, during half time, for the first time. This time last year? I wasn’t sure I’d ever have that chance. I was just wanting to live - even just for a little while… or, at least, have an idea as to if / when I was going to die.
But I’m still here.
I don’t know why I am, but I am.
Lance talks about how he’s a different person - how cancer changed him. I understand that feeling. My whole life changed the moment I heard those words over the telephone that said “it is cancer”. I remember the breath being taken from me. I remember the haze that enveloped my brain. I remember being in shock. I remember it all.
I’m not the same person I was before cancer. I’m just not.
“I won’t kid you. There are two Lance Armstrongs, pre-cancer, and post. Everybody’s favorite question is “How did cancer change you?” The real question is how didn’t it change me? I left my house on October 2, 1996, as one person and came home another. I was a world-class athlete with a mansion on a riverbank, keys to a Porsche, and a self-made fortune in the bank. I was one of the top riders in the world and my career was moving along a perfect arc of success. I returned a different person, literally. In a way, the old me did die, and I was given a second life.”
Over the course of the past year, I’ve somehow managed to make it through months of chemotherapy, three surgeries, countless blood draws and needle sticks and started back to school to learn something I’ve always wanted to do.
I was sitting in class and talking to a fellow student, just yesterday, about breast cancer. She was wearing a tee shirt with a pink ribbon on it and it started the conversation. It turns out, breast cancer took her aunt from her just one week ago. It saddens me that some of us make it and some of us don’t. Her aunt fought for 4 years. Bless her. I can’t imagine. But cancer is scary that way…
“People die. That truth is so disheartening that at times I can’t bear to articulate it. Why should we go on, you might ask? Why don’t we all just stop and lie down where we are? But there is another truth, too. People live. It’s an equal and opposing truth. People live, and in the most remarkable ways. When I was sick, I saw more beauty and triumph and truth in a single day than I ever did in a bike race—but they were human moments, not miraculous ones. I met a guy in a fraying sweat suit who turned out to be a brilliant surgeon. I became friends with a harassed and overscheduled nurse named LaTrice, who gave me such care that it could only be the result of the deepest sympathetic affinity. I saw children with no eyelashes or eyebrows, their hair burned away by chemo, who fought with the hearts of Indurains.
I still don’t completely understand it”
Me neither. It’s all a crazy mess. It’s chaotic and I don’t know why it works (or doesn’t) the way that it does. I just know that I’m here and this anniversary reminds me of that. It reminds me that I’m here and I’m not the same. Every day that I get out of the shower and look at the scars on my body, I know I’m not the same. When I run my fingers through my now-curly hair, I know I’m not the same. As I look in the eyes of those that I love, I know that we’re not the same.
Going through cancer is a scary, sad, awful life-changing experience. I’ve gained tolerance for a lot of things and lost tolerance for a lot of things. I may not see old age. Every day of my life I will have this looming cloud over me that says so. It reminds me that I should just be happy that I’m here, today, and I am…
But cancer corrupts your soul. It changes who you are and what you think and believe. It forces your mind to reflect and mull over regrets with a fine-toothed comb. The thought of “what if I don’t make it?” stays with you always. Even after they say you’re in remission and there is no cancer left in your body - it’s always known that they mean: “At this time” like “At this time there is no cancer left in your body”… the cloud will always loom over me.
But today - TODAY I’m a survivor. TODAY I’m here.
I don’t know why or how or for whom… but TODAY - I AM HERE
“I’ll spend the rest of my life puzzling over my survival. Cancer no longer consumes my life, my thoughts, or my behavior, but the changes it wrought are there in me, unalterable. I’ve learned that intense movement is a necessary thing in my life, something as fundamental and as simple as breathing. I don’t believe I could ride, or live, any differently. Also, I’ve learned to be more thoughtful, and resist saying the first thing that otherwise might come out of my mouth. Above all, I’ve learned that if I have a tough week, all I have to do is sit back and reflect. It’s easy to say, ‘These things don’t bother me anymore.’. “
This is going to be an interesting weekend for me. It will be spent reflecting, appreciating and celebrating. A favourite local band - Rivet Head - is doing a benefit concert on Saturday night. It’s for the American Cancer Society. I believe that is amazingly appropriate so I will be going to that, for sure.
Today, I’m here. Today.
I haven’t been blogging or tweeting much because I’ve been so busy with school.
Here I am - nearly 40 years old - and finally going to school for something that I love: cosmetology.
I love it. The classes are intense and informative and, oftentimes, I find my brain swimming in information when I leave; but, I am ridiculously happy to be there.
I really enjoy the nurturing aspect of it and how one person’s day can be made wonderful simply because they had their hair or nails done.
I remember going through the whole breast cancer ordeal and, while bald and feeling sick, being completely uplifted because someone I know took the time to bring me some make up and help me tie a new, beautiful scarf on my head. I can take what I’ve learned in class and couple it with my own life experience to help other breast cancer survivors feel good about themselves again.
All of that to say - my time in class for the few days per week that I’m there is keeping me overloaded and, thus, the blogging, tweeting and more are not being paid as much attention to. I’m catching up when I can, though.
That’s about it - back to photo editing…
My first ever pin-up shoot
Photographer: Shoshana at Dallas PinUp
MUAH: Ladonna Stein
Back when the whole “having breast cancer” mess began, I remember telling Shoshana: “If I make it through this, I want to work with you.”
I had always wanted to work with Shoshana and LaDonna. When it comes to pinup photography, I really think they’re the tops. Truly. They do excellent work and I had always wanted my shot.
Well, just last week I got my chance. Now that my whole boob cancer thing is done and I’m repaired again, I went to Dallas PinUp (in Deep Ellum - Dallas, Texas) and had these photographs taken.
I’m not a model but they make you feel like one - like a pretty lady. LaDonna on make up and hair is amazing and Shoshana, as a shooter, is exciting to work with. She made me giggle and feel comfortable. Her energy is infectious. I love it.
It was a great experience. I highly recommend them.
I got to hang out with some really cool people on Deep Ellum on Air, yesterday.
Hungover with V show - 7/1/12
Most everyone knows that on September first of last year (2011) I was diagnosed with Stage 2b, triple negative, invasive ductal carcinoma - breast cancer. Since then, my life has been a crazy ride of doctors, nurses, chemicals, needles and surgeries.
Now = I’m done with it all.
On February 14 of 2012, they declared me in remission.
One week ago, today, I had my very last surgery.
Reconstruction is done. Cancer life is done. Now? Get back to living.
No more excuses.
I kept wanting to get my life started again after being declared in remission but I had two more surgeries to get through. I’d start working out again - another surgery to heal from then repeat. Now that’s not happening.
So, I have plans.
I’m back to working out. I have to get back into so much shape. My whole body has changed in so many ways and I need to work extra hard to get that going again.
Thankfully, I took in so much information and took so many nutrition classes that my brain knows what to do nutritionally. I found some great workouts online to do in bursts as I work my way back physically.
Not only do I want to be healthy to prevent cancer from happening but I’m going to be 40 years old in January so - well - you have to take care of yourself as you age. Period.
Beyond that, my whole body - soul - mind - is being cared for.
I’ve expanded my creative business. I’m going to cosmetology school starting late summer to get my state license. I’m very excited about that. I have so many freelance opportunities, too, that I’m involved in.
I’m always doing my photography but now my brand includes my portfolios of MUAH (make up and hair) artistry, graphic design, post-photographic processing and I’m also getting back into writing for some local publications.
It’s kind of funny because I feel like my entire life has been one long ramp to this evolutionary moment.
I have also been so very lucky - so very fortunate - to have a life surrounded by the most amazing people you’ll ever meet.
From these wonderful people, I’ve learned so many truths. I’ve learned to embrace my arts without fear. I’ve learned to love my soul. I’ve learned tips and tricks on how to live life with the most joy. I’ve learned to accept and love. Everyone one of my friends - so generous, loving, intelligent and creative - have implanted lessons into what makes me up, today. I am excited for the future and the many possibilities it brings because of them.
No more excuses - no more holding back. This girl is on the runway and ready for take-off!
I’m almost done with all of my own breast cancer stuff.
I was declared “in remission” on February 14 and I have one final reconstruction surgery in June. Now? Now I am starting the different ways I want to help others have the same fortune I’ve experienced.
First thing - Sign up to do the Komen Dallas walk in October.
Here is the link to my personal donation / Komen page: HERE
I know that there are those who aren’t kosher with donating to Komen because of political shenanigans that happened. That’s fine. You don’t have to donate to this particular thing if you’re not comfortable. Just read my story on the page and you’ll see why I support Komen.
You can also donate directly to The Bridge Breast Network at BridgeBreast.org.
this is the group that helped me get diagnosed and treated. They do this for thousands of women every month. Go check their web page out, too.
My dude - the tattoo artist - is putting together plans for October fundraising that includes pink ribbon tattoos. That money will go to The Bridge Breast Network, too.
Most importantly - be sure to check yourself out on the regular.
That’s what’s up.
This photo is of a doll made by EnchantedDoll.com
I can’t help but be completely taken by it. It’s so beautiful in it’s truth.
I look into the doll’s eyes and I see tears and vulnerability. That sadness and fear that comes with exposure of one’s self after this kind of ordeal.
I see that same look in my eyes when I look into the mirror, too.
People are so kind to give compliments and great words about getting through the fight of breast cancer - to make it through the physical pain, the chemotherapy, the surgeries - but the real fight seems to be after that’s over. It’s the day-to-day battle with the self-esteem that comes after.
This doll looks like me - scar wise. The only difference is I have implants under my lateral scars across my breasts. Other than that, we’re the same.
Well, and I have scars on my belly from them taking my lady balls out.
but I digress…
I see her eyes and I feel my own. That sad face of “look what it did to me” and “what do I do now?”
I’m looking forward to the last reconstruction surgery in June. It will help some. I just want the opportunity to feel pretty. To feel like I haven’t been stripped for parts.
I’m so grateful for the great friends and my dude who all provide that safe place for me to be able to not feel judged. It’s just tough when you judge yourself so harshly and can see nothing but the damage done by something out of your control.
I’m sure I’ll get better with myself as time goes on but, for now, this is the real fight I face every day —- the one with myself.
My friend Zoie and I had lunch together a couple of days ago.
She brought her camera. Here are some of her shots of me
Photographer: A shot in the dark photography