Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry and Bright

Buddy the Elf was right, "Smiling is my favorite". Pretty hard to wipe the grin off my face the past couple of days. Enjoying the season visiting with family and friends. Enjoying not feeling like Tiny Tim at Church and enjoying full scalp coverage.Grateful for the near 10 months into survivorship.

My chalkboard/mail sorter is adorned with the words Merry and Bright. I would say this season has been exceptionally Merry and Bright. Perspective is a wonderful gift.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Foreigner: The Soundtrack of My Body Temperature

Today started with waiting for the bus in 5 degree weather. The bus was running a little late, for reasons unknown. This led to me pacing around trying to keep my toes warm.

With 5 degree weather, a short sleeve shirt and starting the day with cold as ice toes, I thought it would be a stable internal temperature day. Well that was wrong thought.

This afternoon while doing work, I realized I needed to take my lab coat off. It was becoming urgent.

 I could feel that my feet were on fire. That feeling of being lit on fire from the toes and feeling it go whoooooooosh. I knew my face was red and sweaty. I didn't notice, that everyone could see the hot flash I was having. The charge Nurse looked at me and went and got me a cup of ice and a gingerale. She asked me "How hard are you hot flashing right now?". I then proceeded to knock the cup of ice over. In the ICU. Very graceful. I then attempted to pick up the ice cubes, but ended up creating more puddles because I was so hot at that point. One of the nurses who came over to help me, takes one look at my beet red face and my trail of melted ice cubes and asks "How hard are you flashing right now?" She is not much older than I am and asks "Have the medications they put you on put you into menopause?".  She has watched a lot of her colleagues deal with their hot flashes. I confirm they are from the tamoxifen, and consider pouring the remaining ice cubes down my shirt. "That's awful". I tell her "Yeah, but worth it if it keeps the cancer from coming back." She gets some towels to help clean up the disaster are that I have created. I think she could have used one to clean up the puddle I have become.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I blame Tamoxifen and Christmas

These were the exact words I used in returning a text to my Mother this week in reference to my brain. My memory was not what one would call sharp this week. I forgot my badge for work on day, my water bottle the next. I got only half the spinach I needed for the dip I was making.

I like to see how many things that go wrong, or not usual occurrences, that I can blame on tamoxifen. I know I can definitely blame the hot flashes that plagued me toward the end of the week. (How can it be 15 outside and I still want to take my shoes off?) I like to blame my occasional forgetfulness on it too. Here's the kicker that reads like a bad joke; I keep forgetting to ask my oncologist if that is a side affect. I think I better write it down.

Tuesday's year past chemo celebration continued past shopping and lunch and onto the track. I dressed myself all in some of my finest pink gear and may have taken the opportunity to tell everyone why the day was significant to me, or why I  was trying to run off boston cream pie. One of the middle distance guys was saying "Well, this time last year I was never able to hit these times". Me: "Tell me about it, this time last year was my last chemo infusion. Today I ran 32, 100 m intervals." Kind of a conversation stopper. Got a lot of, "Whoa. Congratulations. That's pretty awesome that your  back here". It is pretty awesome to be back at practice.

Hosting holiday parties is a lot more festive when your not prepping for you last chemo infusion. I've had a cookie swap every year (minus 3 years during college) for the last 17 years. Last year's party was a little down. This year was a great time. It's a lot nicer when your the host and you can freely eat shared food and don't have to segregate your food to a special plate that tell everyone not to touch it. It also goes better when you remember you have frozen spinach in your freezer to make up for only buying half the fresh your need for the dip. Take that tamoxifen!

I also tried to eat my weight in cookies. I'm pretty sure that I got near 2 dozen cookies consumed. At one point I had a pumpkin whoopie pie in each hand. My digestive system was mad at me later, but totally worth it. I'm pretty sure I would have made the blue guy on the left proud.

Cookie Monster & Jeff Bridges - 'Silver Bells' duet from adamflight on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Simply having a wonderful Christmastime

Today is exactly one year from  the last chemo infusion! A year since I was getting ready for my peach fuzz to fall out one more time. A year since everything tasted weird. A year since I retired my chemo outfit. My F cancer t-shirt is tacked to my bedroom wall. My jeans have since shredded and been thrown out. My hair has since grown back and straighten out some. It's amazing how fast the time has gone.

From here to here:
(Hey listen I've had enough awkward photos of myself on this blog and today I feel like the extra fancy version of myself seen here).

Today is for celebrating how far into survivorship I have come. Today is for taking the day off from work to spend doing Christmas-y things with my constant chemo companion, my mom. Today is for eating my weight in cookies (even if I am still washing things down with maalox). Today is for running track workouts with the running club I missed.

Today is for being happy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Things Your Friends Say

When your cancer friend finds out that she does not have a second primary cancer, but instead an autoimmune disease, you have a conversation that plays out like this:
"Hey, so guess what, it's not cancer"
Long pause....."Right, we're excited it's not cancer"
"Well, yes. But at least with cancer I knew what I was up against."
"True. Well if it's any consolation the treatments are pretty similar?"
"Whatever, I am still going to run this by my oncologist"

This conversation was classic and screwed up on so many levels, but one that I think lots of cancer survivors understand. The first medical setback you assume that it's related to cancer when you are still within the first five years out. You try to figure out how to deal with things that aren't cancer. You also still run all large medical things by your oncologist to make sure they are ok with it. Not that you don't trust the specialist or anyone else you see, but your oncologist is your go to person.


When you are struggling at track practice, but still really happy to be there and able to get through 9x300 m (yes that says 9!) at a pace that yourself 2 years ago would have been appalled at, sometimes your training partners lift you up.

Training partner, looks around at some of the fast athletes getting their free gear as they earned sponsorship level of our track club. Training partner looks and me and states:
"You beat cancer. How is that not automatic sponsorship? I mean, that's a bigger deal than running a fast time"

Let's just say that fueled me through the rest of the workout.


When you are discussing how your a little mad you had to break you no doctor appointments with your roommate who has been in physical therapy once a week for a year. She earnestly says to you:
"You make me feel normal because you get sick and go to the doctor. Other people I lived with never went to the doctors ever". 

Glad I could help.