Blog Archives - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
What?  Your doctors don't tell you to do that?

My doctor did.

OK, maybe not in those words.  Allow me to explain.

Next Friday is my exchange surgery.  This will effectively complete the major surgeries of my reconstruction.  If you could see me right now, I'm doing the running man.  And my boobs aren't moving b/c they're awful expanders that are hard and never move and I can't wait to get rid of them!!!!!!!!

Yes, I'm excited.

Since my surgery is next Friday (the 9th), my surgeon wanted to meet today to look at my boobs.  Seriously.  He missed them, it'd been a couple of weeks since he last saw them.  OK, I'm joking about that part.  But I do mean it when I say that he wanted to look at my boobs.  Basically it was a meeting to discuss what I want the final product to look like.  Is there anything that I'm currently unhappy with that we can fix? 

So I took my top off and he measured and poked and asked questions and then showed me implants so I could get an idea of size.  People, let me just take a second to say... I have INSANE boobs right now.  I have over 700ccs of fluid in each breast currently.  I think I knew that, but when confronted with an actual implant that is THAT LARGE I was like "CALL BAYWATCH!  I'M READY FOR MY CAMEO!"

Anywho, back to the story, we discussed size, some changes, implant shape, etc. and then he took about a thousand photos so he can review them before surgery and remember what we want to do (which I took for code meaning that he's proud of his work and he wants to show it off to other doctors).

And then before I left, he gave me some homework.  If I can find a photo of some boobies that I like and want... he will hang it on the wall of the operating room and do his best to match 'em.

Soooo... basically I need to go buy a playboy? 

And once again cancer has brought another first into my life.  The first time a doctor has ever recommended porn as part of a treatment... never saw that one coming!
 
Thanksgiving this year is very emotional for me.  In fact, I'm fairly certain that Thanksgiving every year going forward will be very emotional for me and bring back many memories.

You see, last year the week before the Thanksgiving holiday, I found out I was pregnant.  And I, like most, was excited but a little nervous.

The week after the Thanksgiving holiday, I found a lump in my breast.  And I was scared.

About a week and a half later, I heard the words, "I'm sorry, you have cancer."

And my life changed.

I think back on the past year and all that has gone on.  A good part of me is relieved that 2011 is coming to a close.  This is not a year in my life that I will ever remember fondly. 

However, this past year has made me so incredibly thankful.

I am thankful for my health.  Today, I am healthy and alive and that alone is enough to bring me to tears.  Before cancer, I took my health for granted.  Today I am incredibly thankful for it.

I am thankful for my huge network of friends and family that supported me so much throughout the last year.  I've made new friends.  I've renewed old friendships.  I've never, ever felt so loved or cared for in my life.  If there is one good thing to come from cancer, it is to know how blessed I am in terms of family and friends.

I am thankful for my son.  Having a miscarriage has made me even more thankful for how easy my first pregnancy was and for the blessing of my child.  Every day I reminded how lucky I am to have such an amazing gift from God in that little boy.

In general, I am simply more thankful for my many, many, many blessings.  I think so often, we get lost in our day to day troubles and stress.  Stress about money.  Stress about family.  Stress about work.  And we forget that a job is a blessing.  Family is a gift.  And the material things are not forever.  We forget to be thankful.

Today, I give thanks for every moment.  I give thanks for each day.  I give thanks for every moment I get to see my son grow and learn.  I give thanks for every moment spend with my husband, even when we're not agreeing with one another.  I give thanks because no matter if the day was ideal or terrible, it is another day that I am here.

So I rejoice that 2011 is coming to a close.  I rejoice that in just 2 weeks, I will have a majority of my treatment and reconstruction behind me.  I rejoice that I am healthy and happy and lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing friends and family. 

And I pray that I will remember to be thankful for every day, for each day is a gift.
 
So, it's been like a month since the trip to San Fran.

And I got busy.  So I forgot to blog.  DARN YOU WORK!  If work didn't take up so much time, I swear I'd do WAY more blogging (for reals).

Anywho, let the Girl-a-palooza recapping begin.  I have no idea how many blogs about this there will be... but I have a feeling it'll be at least 3.  Maybe more.

So where to begin.  The obvious place is at the very beginning.  And for a girl, that means SHOPPING!

What?  You thought it would be the plane ride or something?  Every trip for any girl usually means shopping.  Shopping for clothes, or a book, or snacks. 

Or is that just me?  It's like my ritual before embarking on a long trip... I must go buy something.

I did buy a cute outfit or two.  But the thing I needed more than anything was a....

wait for it...

it's REALLY EXCITING...

A COMPRESSION SLEEVE!

What?  That's not what you were expecting?  You were thinking I was going to say something frivilous didn't you?  Like a puzzle book for the plane or something... which I might've gotten too.

But this is very serious business.

For the uninitiated, when you have your lymph nodes removed, you are at risk of developing lymphedema.  I could get into a long explanation of what lymphedema is... but that would make this post a novel.  So to put it simply, lymphedema is generalized swelling in an area of your body that does not naturally go away because you have few to no lymph nodes to drain the fluid. 

One of the things that can trigger lymphedema is flying.  You know when you fly and your hands feel kind of swollen or you just generally feel bloated?  I always assumed I was imagining that... or maybe that it was the salt on the peanuts they give you that just caused my hands to feel fat.  The "good news"?  It's wasn't my imagination, it's actually part of your body's reaction to the changing levels of pressure.

So, being at risk for lymphedema, I have to wear a compression sleeve on the affected area (my right arm).  The fear being that the arm will swell and with no lymph nodes, my body would not be able to naturally drain the swelling.  And then I'd have a chronic case of lymphedema... which is NOT on my Christmas list.

Thus, one of my first purchases was a compression sleeve.  This is kind of like a nylon that you put on your arm that gives constant pressure to your arm and does not allow it to swell.

Sounds sexy, eh?  Pantyhose on your arm... what could be sexier than that? 

If you can't picture this in your head, here is a photo:
I know, HOT!  But seriously... what does one wear with a compression sleeve?  Do you flaunt it?  Or do you try to hide it?

I know... right now you're thinking "Well it doesn't look bad with HER outfit."  But I'm SO not wearing a sports bra and spandex to the airport.  Granted, it might make security easier... 

And yes, I know the nude isn't that bad.  And I'm sure you're asking, why not just wear a long sleeved shirt over it?

Well the answer to that question is twofold. 

1. Bending your arm in a compression sleeve is not terribly comfortable.  If you have it bent for long periods of time (as I learned on the flight) it can get very uncomfortable.  It kind of cuts off bloodflow a little bit at your elbow.  So the last thing I want to do is add more fabric to the crook of my elbow to magnify that effect.

2.  In addition to the compression sleeve, I have to wear a gauntlet.  Which a sleeve wouldn't cover.

What's a gauntlet?  I'm glad you asked!
Sexy, right?

These are the things that cancer survivors have to think about.  What outfit can I wear that will coordinate with my compression sleeve and gauntlet?  Jealous?  I thought so.

Well... in typical Cynthia fashion, I decided I did NOT want to go the route of blah and bland.  If I'm gonna have to wear a compression sleeve, I'm going to be LOUD AND PROUD about it... or at least do something where I feel like any stares are well deserved.

So I got myself a sleeve that looked like tattoos.  Actually I got THREE sleeves that look like tattoos.  Because they were having a sale of buy two get one free on patterned sleeves.  And because I'm supposed to wear a sleeve when lifting weights... so I figured I'd need more than one.

Behold the beauty of the compression sleeves:
Picture
All pictures are from Lymphedivas.com
OK... so that's not me modelling them...

But when I wear them, they actually look quite a bit like tattoos.  Which is kind of entertaining.

On the way to San Fran, I wore the very first one (that is all dragons and lotus flowers and is really meant to look like a tat) and got several compliments on my awesome tattoos.  I also got some old ladies looking at me like I was cah-razy!  Which I kind of am, but I'm OK with that.

So moral of the story, if you have any lymph nodes removed (even just 1 or 2) go get yourself a compression sleeve before flying.  I have a good friend that had only 2 nodes removed and she ended up with lymphedema after a flight.  It doesn't happen often, but better to be safe than sorry!

Plus... it can really complete your outfit!
 
OK.  I sewed... and sewed... and sewed.

And everything turned out better than I had hoped. 

Therefore I must take a very brief moment to show off (and by brief, I mean really long).  Yes, I realize this is NOT a sewing/crafting blog.  So hopefully this will be a "one time only" crafting overshare.  But since one of my readers (Julie) wanted details, here they are.

Like I said before, I LOOOOOVE to make baby gifts.  They're relatively cheap.  They're relatively easy.  And it's pretty immediate gratification... meaning I don't spend a week or more on a project (more like 2-5 hours).

And the best part... I can make a "theme" without having to just pick and choose from what stores like Target and Babies R Us have to offer. 

So I found out about 5 weeks ago that a person I love dearly is pregnant.  She was actually about 34-ish weeks at the time.  I had nothing made (obviously since I was not aware prior to this), and I personally LOVE making gifts for people.  So I was all "I HAVE TO GO TO JO-ANN'S!" 

(then I paused for a second to ask "uhhh... what do you need?")

And she was all "WHATEVER YOU WANT TO MAKE ME!" (I love this girl)

At risk of going on a tanget, can I say how much I love Jo-Anns?  Or any fabric store in general?  I love the world of possibilities.  There are all these bolts of fabric just waiting to have their purpose revealed!  What will you turn the fabric into?  Only you know!  I might look at a flannel and think "what a great baby blanket" while someone else might say "I need to make pajama pants out of that NOW!"  I just love to look at fabrics and daydream about what I can create.

Yes.  I'm a dork.  I'm OK with that.

Anywho.  My friend is waiting until the birth to find out if she's having a boy or girl.  I think this is cool, but for someone making a baby gift, it can be limiting.  I mean... all the cool baby fabrics are usually NOT gender neutral.  So when I got to JoAnns, I went to the flannel aisle (b/c everything baby should be flannel... it's so soft and cuddly!) and started to browse to see what my "neutral" fabric options were.

1. Green jungle animals
2. Owls... although even these were kind of gender biased (some fabrics had more blue... some had more pink)
3. Grey, red, black and white music/rock and roll themed fabric.

Hmmm... my pregnant friend is kind of "hip" (yes, I just said hip, I'm old, I'm OK with that).  Which kind of vetoed the green jungle animals.  It was "cute" not "cool".  The owls were a little too gender biased for me.  And the rock 'n roll fabric was... just... AWESOME!  Don't believe me?  Check it out:
So I bought all except that one on the right (b/c it didn't match my color scheme) and went home to make burp cloths and blankets galore.

And I finished that in one night b/c it's EASY!  If you want to know how easy, just let me know and I might actually post a tutorial and risk turning this into a craft blog for a few brief minutes.

I ended up with 7 burp cloths and 3 40x40 inch flannel blankets (flannel was 60% off, so I got alot of it).  Because those flannel blankets they sell in stores that measure like 20x20 inches are WEAK!  You can't use them to swaddle.  It's like trying to use a postage stamp to cover your baby.  I.  HATE.  THEM.  Thus, I only make massively large flannel blankets for my friends.
After just one evening of sewing, I was kind of hooked.  It was fun.  It was easy.  The results were AWESOME.  I had to sew more.

Enter the diaper bag.  I checked in with my buddy and she said "nope, don't have a diaper bag yet."

SWEET!  (I actually said that... which... wow... just demonstrates me sewing geekiness)

My mom makes awesome diaper bags.  They're these back packs that are quilted and adorable b/c they match whatever theme you want.  And she uses her embroidery machine to put the baby's name on it and everything.  I loved mine.  But I don't have the patience to make one b/c quilting and all that takes some serious time (remember, I like things that fit into the 5 hours or less time range).

So I went online to find a tutorial for an easy messenger style diaper bag. 

I found this awesome tutorial for how to make a diaper bag that transforms into a stroller bag.  And it sounded super duper easy.  CHECK IT OUT.

Next night, it was back to JoAnns (no, I don't shop all at once, I shop in spurts b/c I like going to the fabric store as often as possible).

I found this great, sturdy, thick red canvas material, which matched the red hearts on one of the flannels I picked up.  But I didn't want to do all red.  Because that's way boring.  So I got some grey canvas to offset it.  And a fun polkadot cotton for the liner.  I would've done more of the grey and red heart material (from above) as a liner... but they had already sold out. 

Apparently I wasn't the only person who thought it was awesome.

Now the only thing I didn't like about the above tutorial was the lack of pockets in the diaper bag.  Because when your diaper bag has no set locations to put things... you lose stuff in it and spend 5 very frustrating minutes searching for that STUPID toy that your kid loves while they're screaming and you think you might lose your mind.  And then you just dump everything out on the floor like a crazy woman b/c YOU CAN'T FIND THAT STUPID TOY!

Or maybe it's just that I always overpack my diaper bag so I can't find anything.

Either way, I didn't want this to just be an empty messenger back.  I wanted there to be some built in organization.  And more pockets.  Pockets are GOOD.  So I added a large back pocket (to put the changing pad in).  And I reinforced the bottom.  And I added two pockets on each side for little cell phone pockets.  And then I added 2 large pockets on the inside (for diapers and wipes).  And put a long strip of elastic on one side and sewed it down in a few spots to hold whatever else a mom might want to stick in there and keep in place (burp cloths, blankets, bottles... whatever).  So I kind of redesigned the entire bag.  In a good way (I hope).

I think it took me between 5 and 7 hours in total.  Which is pretty awesome considering I was making up alot of this as I went along.

I personally think it turned out AWESOME.  Having made one now... there are definitely things I would do differently, but for a first "prototype" I think I rocked the socks off this diaper bag.

Check it OUT!
See what I mean?  Turned out way awesomer than I thought it would.  And it's still light and easy to carry.  I'm so in love with making these.  I want more friends to have babies so I can make more of them.  Way fun!

Hint Hint: go procreate people!  Just so I can make diaper bags!

So now what?  I mean I made the blankets and the burp cloths and the diaper bag.  BUT I STILL WANT TO SEW!

What else could I add that would really finish off the entire "set". 

I KNOW!  A paci pocket (had one of these with caleb and I LOVED it).  This is basically just a little pouch that you can stick pacifiers in.  But you can hang it off your purse strap.  Or diaper bag strap.  Or anything that the little strap fits around.  Sounds simple... but crying baby + pacifier = sweet, quiet, happy baby (at least that worked with Caleb).  So always knowing where the pacifiers were was VITAL.

Which leads to my OTHER tiny project... a paci/binkie clip.  This was a little tougher to figure out because finding little clips to use that don't destroy clothing (like some mitten/suspender clips) is way harder than it sounds.  I like the clips that have a little plastic or rubber on the teeth so they don't kill that cute outfit.  And the ones with plastic teeth were like $2 per clip!  OUTRAGEOUS! 

So I went to Office Max.  Because I just wanted a stupid plastic clip that didn't cost more than the pacifier itself.  And I found those plastic clips with magnets on the back (to stick to the side of a filing cabinet).  They were the perfect size!  They were the perfect price (about $0.75 apiece).  And they even had cute smiley faces on them :)

I tore off the magnet, drilled a few holes in the plastic (so I could attach the strap for the binkie clip) and voila!  They were perfect.

Two short hours later, and I was done with these little projects. 
And now I'm spent.  I've run out of ideas.  And out of time.  My friend is now 39 weeks pregnant so I should really get this gift delivered (before she delivers!). 

This concludes craft time on The Funny Thing About Cancer blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Next blog will be back to your regularly scheduled programming!