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!
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:
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!
So the other night I couldn't sleep. It may or may not have been due to hot flashes.
As I laid in bed, sweating, just staring at the ceiling, I was thinking about my beautiful little boy and how much I love him. And as often happens when those thoughts go through my head, I say a little prayer. Here is about how that prayer went:
Thank you so much for my little boy. Thank you for another day with him, watching him grow and learn. Please let me have many more days like today.
OK... maybe not exactly like today. Today was a little rough. How about lots of days like today minus the tantrums and Mr. Grumpy Pants attitude Caleb was sporting. Let's just say when you created Caleb, you created an excellent lesson in patience for me. Every day. And sometimes every second of every day.
But you know what I mean. Please allow me to have many days and years with my little boy so I can be there for him as he grows into a man. Please grant me the blessing of one day becoming a Grandma to his children.
NOT that I'm in any rush to become a Grandma. Seriously. I have no desire for Caleb to be on Teen Mom Season #523. He better not knock up some 15 year old, dimwitted floozy like I see on that show because you know I'll have to kill either him or her if that's the case, depending on who is dumber.
(and then I remember I'm praying and probably shouldn't use words like floozy or threaten to kill anyone)
God, please help those single young teen mothers all around the world and help guide them to provide good lives for their children. It's not an easy life.
(then my mind turns towards my upcoming surgery)
And God, please help give me the bravery I need going into this surgery. Please be with my surgeons and guide their hands and make this surgery successful so the cancer can't come back. And Lord, I know this might sound vain, but please be with that plastic surgeon and help him do a great job.
Because I really want nice boobs. Please do not let me end up looking like Franken-tits. I just want boobs that are pretty and make Chris want to spend alot of time practicing making babies. *wink wink*
(and yes I even say "wink wink" in my head. God doesn't care because I'm married and married people are allowed to do things that go along with the "wink wink", so there!)
Which leads me to my last request. God please let my fertility come back. Please bless me with the opportunity to become a parent to another child. Just kick start my ovaries soon. Not just for the sake of future children, but also because these hot flashes have GOT TO GO! Seriously! I just can't take it anymore!
(and then I kick off the covers and start fanning myself because I'm literally sweating from yet another hot flash)
Lord, thank you for all of your blessings and your mercy.
In Jesus' name we pray. AMEN!
After I said my prayer, I thought about all that I had prayed for and started laughing. In part because I obviously had ADD/chemobrain while praying (hence all the random side bars).
But also in part because not only did I pray for a long life and many years with my family, I also prayed for pretty boobies.
I think the age that God usually gets prayers for "pretty boobies" would be when a girl is like 11 and about to hit puberty. And it struck me as HILARIOUS that I'd be praying for the same thing as an 11 year old girl.
But I have a feeling that many breast cancer patient's prayers go something along these lines. You pray very sincerely for the "deep" stuff like a long, long life. But you also pray for those things that represent a "normal" life after cancer, like pretty boobies and the ability to have more children.
Because isn't that what we all want? A long, normal life? As a cancer survivor, normal just looks a little different :)
Yes. You read that right. I am like Harry Potter.
Bear with me, it's gonna take a little time for me to get to my point, but I personally think it's worth it :)
So this past week, I've been opening up to people in my office and in my life about the fact that I have cancer. Due to holidays and doctor appointments, I've been in the office for 3 days this week. I've spent at least 2 of those days having "the conversation".
I've gotten many reactions from "I'm sorry to hear that, how often are you going to be out of the office?" (which is actually the easiest converation I had) to lots of tears and even one person who questioned me for about a half an hour on every single detail of everything.
It's been emotionally draining and exhausting. I think I should've been allowed a nap after every single conversation.
But back to the point, there is ONE main thing that I've noticed in all of these converations. People hate to say the word cancer.
It's almost like they feel that if they say it, it makes it worse.
Like maybe the cancer (cue scary music) will find them and kill them and their entire family.
Kind of like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series :) Yes, I'm a Harry Potter geek and I'm OK with that. In the books, almost everyone refers to Voldemort as "He-who-must-not-be-named".
I kinda feel like people treat the word cancer the same way.
I've had it referred to as my "illness" and my "situation" and loads of other euphemisms that all refer to cancer without actually naming it.
I am Harry Potter. I am unafraid to name my foe. I will refer to it as cancer and not be scared of it!
But there are days when I feel like maybe I should name it something for those that are uncomfortable with the word. Maybe it'll make them feel better?
Would it be odd if I named my cancer? Like maybe Fred. Or Bobo. Or shall we simply call it "the-illness-that-must-not-be-named"?
I personally still intend to call it cancer. But if it makes you feel better, you can call it something else. Just clue me in to the name so I know you're talking about cancer and not some long lost classmate or family member.
Or just submit suggestions in the comments and I'll choose my favorite!
Let the naming of my little disease begin!