Blog Archives - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
In 15 days, I will be making a trip to San Francisco.

In 17 days, I will be running the Nike Women's Half Marathon.

Because I'm crazy.

Because after 5 months of chemo and a bilateral mastectomy, I thought to myself "what could be more fun than to go run a half marathon?"

And honestly, I am SO looking forward to it :)

I'm not in good shape.  I'm no where close to running 13 miles.  But I cannot wait to do this.

Why?  Because I will be catching up with some of my best friends around the country (who like to run).  We're going to spend 3 days in San Fran and 1 day in Napa.  I get to enjoy intelligent, uninterrupted, adult conversation with 5 smart and amazing women.  Some of them I haven't seen in almost 5 years.

I'm sure you're thinking, "why don't you just do that WITHOUT the half marathon?"

The answer is simple, I'm not very good at giving myself presents.  If someone were to say "let's organize a girls weekend."  I'd say "that sounds like fun!"  But since there is no sense of immediacy or urgency, it would fall to the wayside and we'd never get together.  Or I'd be "too busy" or something would come up.  Bottom line is that somehow the weekend wouldn't happen.

BUT when you decide to sign up for a half marathon, there is no backing out.  You (usually) train your butt off for one of these things, so there is NO WAY you're going to let something pop up that will keep you from running it.  The amount of time and commitment it takes to get ready just makes it impossible to NOT go.

Plus.  It's the Nike Women's Half.  There is a lottery to select participants.  It's almost impossible to get INTO this thing.  Why?  Because there is a mile of chocolate.  And you get a Tiffany's necklace (instead of a medal).  And... it's, like, AWESOME!  I mean, you couldn't PAY me to miss this.  I've been fantasizing about this race since I started running half marathons!

So... in just a few short weeks, I will be in San Francisco enjoying the company of some of my favorite women.  And I will enjoy every moment of it, even if I'm simply strolling along the course (because I'm too tired to run). 

And you know what makes it even better?  Even if I'm not half marathon shape, I'm healthy enough to run.  I'm energetic enough to laugh my way through it.  And even if it's painful at times, it's still better than sitting in the chemo chair.

Life is good. 
 
I get alot of questions from friends (that live far away) about the status of my hair.

I've been told a picture is worth a thousand words... so here you go!
Picture
My hair is back!  I've even had a haircut!  It was glorious.  Although when I walked in, the stylist looked at me and asked "sooo what exactly are we doing today?"  She should've just said "You don't have any hair to cut!"

But I did.  And I wanted it "cleaned up".  Because when you have super short hair... it's super obvious (to me at least) when you've skipped a haircut.  And by super obvious I mean probably not obvious at all.  Or so everyone here reassured me ("Oh you're crazy!  I can't even tell!" was the most common comment).

So the funny part about THIS stage is this.  I spent all of chemo (about 5 months) totally bald.  And it was wierd.  Because every woman has some sort of habit or fidget (for lack of a better word) that centers around her hair.  Like pushing it behind her ear.  Or tossing it over her shoulder.  Or... I dunno, combing/brushing it? :)

And it was SO WIERD to not have hair there to mess with.

Now I have hair.  And it FEELS... well.... WIERD!  Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to have my hair back.  But at it's current length, it feels really long (it's like maybe an inch long!  HA!).  And unkempt.  And... just... strange.

My husband laughs at me.  I think he finds it funny because this is more of a "guy thing" to discuss.  And I'm sure I used to tease him a little when he'd complain about his hair feeling really long because... oh... I dunno, it had grown a whole 1/4 of an inch.

But now I get it! 

So my hair is there.  It's getting long.  So far it's straight (YAY) but I'll wait awhile longer before I declare it curl free.  I used to have LOTS of curl, so straight would be quite the change for me.  It's still the same color... or maybe a shade lighter.  But all in all, it's pretty close to the way it was before cancer.  No chemo curl.  No color change (unless you count the occasional white hair that cropped up... which I'll blame on cancer and definitely NOT my advancing age).

Along with my hair, life is slowly heading back towards "normal".  But I think that's a topic for another day :)  Generally speaking, I'm happy, healthy, feeling energetic and alot like myself pre-cancer... if not better.

I love my life.  I am so lucky to have it.  And I know I say this all the time, but I am truly blessed. 
 
Yesterday was "Patriot's Day".

Apparently that's the name for the anniversary of 9/11.  I was unaware that there was a name for it.  I just considered it a day to reflect on one of the greatest tragedies in American history.

Not a year passes that I don't think of that day.  It is a day that has certainly affected my life over and over and over again.

First, there was the day itself, 9/11/01.  Do you remember where you were?  I do.  I was living in Philadelphia.  That morning, I was at my internship job at an investment company.  I was sitting in my coworker/friends cube.  We were gossiping and chatting (as women are sometimes known to do).  One of our coworkers was walking by and said "a plane just hit the World Trade Center". 

What was our response?  "Ha ha.  Very funny Mitch."

He stopped and said, "No, I'm really serious, a plane just hit one of the twin towers.  If you don't believe me, come to the trading floor, it's on all the TVs".

We quickly walked to the trading floor.  We watched, sickened.  We all speculated as to what had happened.  A pilot had gone off course?  Some major computer malfunction on the plane?  Some other awful mishap?  At this point, our brains could NOT possibly comprehend the idea that someone had purposely done this.  We were naive.

Then, while we all watched, another plane hit the other tower. 

And we knew.  This was no accident.

Then came the pentagon.  And then the plane crash in Pennsylvania. 

At this point, everyone's fears were running wild.  We worked in twin towns in Philadelphia.  We worked down the road from the Philadelphia stock exchange.  What if one of these buildings was next?

We were all sent home.

My classes were cancelled.

I had to walk through campus to get home and I remember hearing people crying... everywhere.

There were ALOT of students at Penn whose parents worked in downtown NYC.  In the World Trade Center.  Or a block or two from there.  Everyone was scared.  No one could get through to anyone in the cities on their cell phones. 

Terror and panic touched many lives that day.

Then I went to my apartment and sat with my two roomates and watched TV.  It was awful.  Seeing the smoke pouring off of Manhattan.  Watching the videos of people running through the streets avoiding the falling debris.  People covered head to toe in white dust, walking through the streets of an otherwise abandoned Manhattan.  The eerie scene looked like something out of a bad horror film.

I tried to imagine who would do this.  Why would they do this?  Were we, as Americans, really so horrible that we deserved THIS? 

As the days went on, my lack of understanding never improved.  I still, to this day, do not understand this act of violence.  Maybe it's because I just can't comprehend that kind of hate.  And for that, I am thankful.

But this one event has had ripple effects in my life since then.  Less than a year after this tragedy, I met my husband to be, who happened to be attending West Point at the time.  We dated for 5 years before tying the knot.  He was deployed twice during that time to fight the war that stemmed from this event.  I got to plan my wedding all by myself because he was in Kuwait during that year.

Less than a year ago, he was deployed again.  He missed the 2nd year of our son's life.  And missed a majority of my cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

This one event in history, this one awful tragedy, continuously affects my life in ways that I never imagined at the time.  As a military spouse, I'm sure it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  This is something I will never forget and each and every 9/11, I will think of those families who lost loved ones, on that day and during the war since. 

I've never written this all down before, so I thought I should.  Just to remember.  To commemorate those whose lives were destroyed by this tragedy.  And those who continue to fight the wars started that day.

God bless.
 
OK.  Not really.  My hubby would KILL me if I posted pictures of my foobs on the internet. 

He actually explicitly told me I was not allowed to post pictures of my foobs online. 

Apparently he's noticed that I have no problem showing them to anyone that asks.  OK.  Maybe they don't ask.  Maybe I offer to show them.  But I know they WANT to ask... because why wouldn't they?!?!  Foobs are FASCINATING!  Admit it.  Right now you're thinking "I am kind of curious to see what they look like." 

No?  Oh.

Point is that I'm semi-obsessed with my foobs.

That obsession is lessening over time... very, veeerrrrrry slowly.  But, on top of that obsession, cancer also has removed any and all prudishness I might have once laid claim to.  So obsession + no modesty = lots of people seeing your foobs.

You think having a baby makes you less prudish because you have, like, 10 people in a small room staring at your vagina waiting to see what comes out?  Well wait until you get cancer and spend MONTHS whipping your boobs out for people to see.  Suddenly, boobs are no longer sexual, they're a science experiment. 

So now I like to joke that cancer has another, lesser known side effect... complete decimation of any and all semblance of modesty.  They should list that on those medical websites.  "Surgeon General's Warning: Breast Cancer causes intense desire to invite everyone (including strangers) to look at and possibly even feel your boobs."

I definitely didn't read about that in any of those flyers they leave laying around the Breast Clinic.

For those of you that know a survivor... consider yourself warned.  You might stop by for a quick visit and walk away having seen more than you ever expected!