Category: Random - 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!
 
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!
 
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!
 
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:

Dear God,

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 :)
 
OK, so this particular "activity" wasn't really motivated by boredom. 

More by my strange sense of humor.

First, a little background.  When I was first diagnosed with cancer, one of my coping mechanisms was to try to find a way to make cancer funny.

The first two things that became big jokes were 1. Nipple tattoos and 2.  Looking bald and badass.

What do I mean by looking bald and badass?

Well, I thought it would be fun to put on some fake tattoos, maybe a fake piercing or two and go  out on public.  And take lots of photos.  Mostly because I don't plan on ever being bald again, so I might as well get some awesome photos to show the grandkids someday of when their grandma looked like a badass chick.

And I thought it would be funny.

I told you I had a strange sense of humor.

And since the hair is starting to grow in, time was getting short for me to take advantage of this opportunity.

So this past Sunday, I did it! 

Thanks to the steriods they give you before chemo, I couldn't sleep and was fully awake by 5 am.  Chris, Caleb and I were planning to go to the cities to run some errands.  And I figured that the trip to the cities was the perfect opportunity for me to let my freak flag fly!  So I got up, showered, pulled out my stash of fake tats and went to town!  (No, I don't normally have a stash of fake tattoos lying around, I had purchased these a long time ago in preparation for this day)

A few hours later, we were in the cities, running some errands and the game was on.  Let's just say that people are alot more prone to staring when they see someone like THIS out in public chasing around a 2 year old.
Picture
And honestly, it was refreshing to have people just openly stare.  Up until this weekend, everyone who sees me bald does the whole "look-but-pretend-I'm-not-looking" thing.  So it was just kind of a nice change of pace to have people gawk.  

Chris and I had a ton of fun with it.  I had lots of little kids just openly stare.  One of them very politely told me, "You don't have any hair." (it was cute)  And the response from adults was varied.  I heard one guy say "That's just WRONG!" but there were other dads that struck up some conversation while we were waiting in line to ride some rides at the Mall of America.  And one nice teenage checkout clerk told me I had a really nicely shaped skull. 

I was just a very entertaining day.  My mission was accomplished.  I had fun and I got some great photos.  Enjoy this brief glimpse of me as a pretend rocker chick!
 
For those of you who don't know, I believe in Murphy's Law.

Murphy's Law says this: if something CAN go wrong, it will.  And I personally feel that my life in the past year is an obvious example of that.  So much so that it is now humorous.

If I ever get a tattoo, it's going to say something like "Murphy can bite me!"

So while I had great intentions of writing a bunch of blogs this week and sharing photos of my wigs (yes, I have two)... murphy had other ideas.

And I got sick.  Like didn't go to work sick.  Which basically means I was almost dead.  OK, so maybe dead is an overexaggeration, but I felt like poo. 

I lost my voice completely.  And, just for the record, do you have any idea how difficult it is to reprimand a 2 year old in a whisper?!?!  Seriously.  For like the hour each day that I was out of bed and taking care of Caleb, he completely ignored me.  Or thought that the whispering was a game and would whisper everything back (which was really cute actually).

And on top of the loss of voice, my head hurt and my body hurt and I was all stuffy and snot was everywhere... and I was a whiney mess.  And I actually napped!!!!  I pretty much never nap.  I don't think I've taken a nap since AC (and prior to chemo, my last nap was in the weeks after giving birth). 

But basically, I turned into a big, whiney, crabby baby.  I usually hold it together a little better and "tough it out".  But this time around I just let myself be cared for.  Because I could.  My husband was home and I could lay back and be cared for without any guilt of inconveniencing anyone.  What bliss!

So I promise to write those blogs soon because I know a few people are DYING to see my wigs (aka Julie).  But as a teaser, I will leave you with two photos. 

First, here is a picture of the wig I got.  But mine is in a dark brown.  And I got it cut shorter. 
Picture
Photo from Wigs.com. Wig is Nocturne from the Raquel Welch line
And here is a picture of my college basketball coach.  Why would I give you that?  Because I feel like her haircut is kind of what my wig looks like.  This isn't a bad thing.  But it IS wierd to me that I somehow ended up with my coach's hairstyle...
Picture
Photo is from the Boston University Athletics website.
 
So this post is going to go in a radical direction for me... politics!

I know this blog is about cancer, but it's also my place to air my thoughts, so please tolerate my brief foray into b*tching about something other than cancer for a day.

Today my husband called me and we had a little conversation that went kind of like this:

Chris: Oh and one more thing, I might only get a half of a paycheck next week.
Me: What?  Why?
Chris: The government might shut down.  Don't you read the news?
Me: No, I was too busy watching Blues Clues.  What do you mean the government might shut down?  How does a government shut down?
Chris: Go read a newspaper.  Just wanted to let you know that I might get just half a paycheck next week.

So I got off the phone with hubby and immediately opened the news and began to read up on this cah-razy "government shut down" thing. 

For people like me that don't read the news much, if Congress doesn't pass a budget soon, the government will shut down.  And by shut down, I mean that lots of government people will still have to work (those deemed essential), they just won't get paid.

And you know, in theory, I don't think this is a bad idea.  You don't do your job, you don't get paid. 

That's the THEORY... but the reality is that the lawmakers that will be responsible for this if it occurs WILL STILL GET PAID!!!!

Yep.  That's correct.  Congress has a nice little law in place that says they still get paid even if the government shuts down.  So the only people that will be affected by this are the rest of the government employees that have nothing to do with passing a budget bill. 

How does that make ANY sense at all?!?! 

So thousands of government employees will suddenly lose a WEEKS WORTH of pay because a bunch of lazy assholes in Washington DC can't get a budget signed. 

And all I can think of is "do these people in DC really understand what their decisions mean to these federal employees?"

I'm obviously a little biased as I am a military spouse, but what would you do in YOUR household if you suddenly lost 25% of your monthly pay? 

Seriously, pause for a moment and think about that.

If you're a super frugal family, that'd probably mean you couldn't put anything in savings and it'd cut out most of your "fun money" and maybe eat into your monthly grocery budget a little.  If you're not a super frugal family (like most families), losing 25% of your household income would be crippling. 

And for most military families, it's truly 25% of your HOUSEHOLD income.  Many military spouses do not work, in large part due to the nature of their spouse's job.  When your spouse is required by law to show up to work when called at any time of night or day AND you move once every 1-3 years, it can be difficult to find a job.  So it's not like most military families have a secondary income to fall back on.

But yet... Congress will get paid.  The people who are the cause of the ENTIRE issue will be able to pay their bills, buy their groceries, take their kids out to a movie... you get the idea.  They won't have to "do without".

AND THAT PISSES ME OFF!

It's not that I'm worried about Chris and I.  Yeah it'll suck to have our income affected, but we'll be able to make ends meet.  But I think back to the days when I didn't have a job and we WERE living on Chris' salary alone.  At that point, I would've been devastated.  I would've been crazy stressed and freaking out.  I'd literally be panicking.

And I guarantee you that there are a TON of military families who are freaking out right now. 

I know, this is still a huge IF.  Congress might sack up and get the job done (and I hope they do).  But I find something extremely RIDICULOUS about the way the law is currently written.  That federal employees will lose THEIR wages... but not Congress.

To be fair, Senate has actually passed a bill that would change this and it's waiting to be voted on in the House.  And the House has passed a Budget bill that includes language to change this.  BUT its been said Senate won't pass that budget bill as it currently stands.  And the House won't pass the Senate's stand alone bill because "there are new representatives that had to leave their jobs to campaign/get elected and they have debt" (not an exact quote, but you get the idea).  Like the rest of us don't?  Like there aren't military families on the brink of bankruptcy (if not in the middle of it)?  ARE THESE PEOPLE FOR REAL?!!?! 

THIS IS EXACTLY WHY THEY SHOULDN'T GET PAID!!!  I guarantee you that if you hit all those politicians in their personal checkbook, this wouldn't even be an issue today.  They would've gotten this crap figured out MONTHS ago.  But instead, it's US that is paying the price for their laziness. 

Long blog made short:  If you don't get your work done, you shouldn't get paid.  And yes, I mean YOU Congress.  Get yourselves a set of morals and hold yourselves to the same rules that apply to the rest of us!