Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Dear Fellow Walker

Dear Fellow Walker,

I love that you, like me signed up to walk in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. You were in the walk with me. That tells me that you had done all the fundraising necessary, that you had accepted the challenge to walk. It also means that I can assume at some point breast cancer has touched your life.

I know, I know. We aren't supposed to assume, but as I've walked and talked to people, I've quickly learned people are here because breast cancer touched them in some way. I've met people who walk for their grandma, their mom, their daughter, their sister, a friend's aunt, a teacher who inspired them. I've met walkers, who like me, walk because they had or have breast cancer.

We are all here, in the same spirit: breast cancer has touched us, we want to make a difference so we walk!

I also know, like me, you were tired when we met. We met at mile 22, where we both chose to stop walking and get on the van to drive us to the end. You didn't know it, but I had just been hit by someone else walking on the sidewalk. I was tired, I was in a bit of pain (that, let's be honest, wasn't too bad, but I had just walked 22 miles and so at that point little things felt big).

You came on the bus. You looked tired, like me. You looked hot, like me. You looked like you had worked hard to get those 22 miles and were now ready for a break. You were a young woman like me. We wearily smiled at each other. I noticed the big sticker you had on your shirt. A pink sticker. It was hard to miss. And it said on it "Survivor Chic" among several pink ribbons.

I instantly wanted to meet you. Another young woman with breast cancer. I don't pretend to think I'm the only one, but at that moment,  I wanted to reach out. I wanted to say hi. I wanted to know your story. It's part of the reason to walk - to hear other people's stories. And I wondered how much we had in common. So I asked politely "When were you diagnosed?"

The look of shock that came across your face, well, it kind of shocked me! "I've never been diagnosed with anything!" You informed me. You wondered why I asked. So I told you, as I pointed (even though I know pointing is not polite) "your sticker" as I double checked to make sure I read it right.

Yep, all pink. With SURVIVOR CHIC printed on it.

"Oh this!" You said, looking down, "Yeah, I just put on because I thought it was cute!"

Wait. What? Did I just hear you right? I'm pretty sure that's when my mouth dropped open. You thought it was cute. I nodded and then turned to look out the window of the van. The woman next to me, who I think sensed that this was not going over well for me, patted my hand.

I stared out that window. Too stunned to talk. You thought it was cute? I was half tempted to lift my shirt, show my scars, make you really look and ask if they were cute as well.

I wondered, why if you haven't had breast cancer, why at a breast cancer walk, you would put a sticker on identifying you as a survivor. Why would you want to be in the same group as me? It wasn't fun. It wasn't cute.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. I had been walking all day. I was tired. I had just been hit by a random pedestrian who clearly didn't think that any of us walking that day were cute.

Maybe you didn't know. My friends, upon hearing about this, offered up excuses for you: maybe you thought it related to some band's song. Or to the television show. Or maybe you were in such awe of survivors you wanted to be like them.

I'm not sure what happened. I'd like to think you really thought the sticker was cute and that you put it on without thinking. I'd like to think you didn't know it would feel like a slap in the face to me. That it would make me want to cry, when I was already at a point in which I was holding back tears. That maybe you didn't realize that cancer isn't cute. It isn't something to long for. Or a club you ever want to be a part of. It's hard. It's painful. It changed me - and not in some glorious I-had-an-epiphany-and-am-now-a-better-person-so-make-a-cheesy-movie-about-me-in-which-the-world-can-think-cancer-was-a-gift kind of way.

I didn't talk to you then. I wasn't sure of how the words would come out. But what I wish I had to said to you is this: As cute as the sticker may be, cancer is not. It's not something you want to be a part of it. It hurts me to see you wear that sticker so casually - like a fun accessory - after all that cancer did to me. I'm sure you aren't trying to be hurtful, but I really don't think that you should wear a sticker that implies you are a breast cancer survivor here, or maybe anywhere, but especially not here and not today.

And maybe we could have become friends. Maybe you would have seen it from my side, and I would have seen it from your side. Maybe we would have both learned something. That would have been good. But I sat, silent, staring out the window, biting my lip to keep from crying. I was just too tired to tell you all of this.

I know it's pretty unlikely you will read this. But if by some weird stroke of luck, you do, I hope you will see where I'm coming from. That I'm not mad. I was then, in that moment, but not now. Now, I hope that you never have an actual reason to wear a sticker similar again.

Love,
A fellow walker and breast cancer survivor

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Clash of Clans

I asked my son the other day what I should blog about and without missing a beat he told me "Blog about Clash of Clans because it's awesome!"

So, here you go world, a post about Clash of Clans!

My kids have been playing this game for a while and my 8 year old has been begging me to get it so I could play with them. I hemmed and hawed and dragged my feet, but a few weeks ago, I was having some big joint issues and could barely walk. So I got set-up on the couch and told my son he could finally teach me to play this game! He was thrilled.

I dutiful downloaded the app. I got my in-game name and started playing.

He told me all about getting enough gold and elixir. He told me about building my army up, getting some good defenses and to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade as I could!

Clash of Clans
My village area so far!
So I did. I upgraded. I bought. I built an army. I played some battles.

Someone we know started a clan, so I'm now a member of it! I've impressed my children with what I've done so far. I don't know how long they will remain impressed, but for now they think that their mom has some skills (little do they know I've been playing video games longer than any of them have been alive! LOL!)

So  if you're looking for a fun game, try Clash of Clans. It's a pretty fun game and it's not a game you need to spend hours playing!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

World War Z

**Just a reminder, I am part of the Netflix stream team and am being compensated for blogging about Netflix. But as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own! 

Two weeks ago my husband came home from work. We had no softball that night, no where to be, and nothing to do (a rare event around these parts this time of year).

He told us "I heard Netflix has World War Z in now! Let's watch it tonight!" I was interested in watching the movie so I thought shy not. The kids wanted to watch it too, so even more reasons to watch it. (Though it shouldn't have been!)

After dinner, we all went to the basement and sure enough, the movie was available so we started playing it.

This was a good idea for 4/5ths of the family. It was a terrible idea for 1/5th of the family. It wasn't supposed to be that bad, so we let the 8yo watch it.

We are idiots.

I was up that night with him a lot. I had to remind him a lot that the movie was fake. And zombies weren't coming to attack us. We didn't need to protect ourselves against it. Or prepare for doomsday. Sigh. In the future we will stick to letting him watch Johnny Test (which he's been watching on netflix lately and enjoying. And is much, much, much more age appropriate!)

The letting the too-young-child-watch-a-movie-that-was-scarier-than-we-thought-it-would-be issue aside, the rest of us loved watching the moving together.

Between the move, softball, unpacking, doctor's appointments, etc, we haven't had a lot of time to just sit together. So it was lovely to just hang out together and watch World War Z! It was an interesting movie with a slightly different spin on how the zombies act than what other zombie movie/shows have done!

And as a bonus, the next day I walked over to the library and checked the book out of the library (which is quite different from the movie!)

All in all, a good night. Well, if I count the three wake-ups from Mister Man, who definitely was NOT ready to watch this movie at all LOL!

Monday, June 30, 2014

My DNA

A few weeks ago,  I headed over to my cancer center's geneticist to visit with her.

I had read, a while ago, that there was possibly more genetic testing in regards to breast cancer.

When I was diagnosed, I was tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2. To everyone's amazement (given the family history), it came back negative.

When I read there was more genetic testing that could be done, I thought I should do it. Then dragged my feet. I want to know if there is a genetic component. And yet, there's a small part of me that doesn't want to know.

If there is, it could mean I gave that same mutation to my daughters. Or my son. It could mean I am also high risk for a second cancer, or even a third cancer, or some other issue. It could mean more doctor's appointments, more tests. It could mean more anxiety, more worrying.

At the end of the day though, I want to know. Because it could also mean proactive treatments, extra monitoring to catch things before they become bigger issues (though, as I've said before, early detection isn't a cure all). It's more information, more knowledge.

I can't fathom how this is a bad thing.

So I went in a few weeks ago. I met with the counselor. I learned I was eligible to try to get this done. So that day, I went ahead and had my blood drawn. I signed all the papers, took all the information stuff home, watched her pack it up and place it in the mail pile to go to the company.

At that point, it was time to hold our breath to see if the genetics company and insurance company could work out how it would get covered. Given that this panel of tests isn't exactly a minor expense, we weren't quite sure how this would all work out, but somehow it did. The genetics company had to call us if the test expense would be above $100 out of pocket for us. We were told we'd be notified in a week. No call has come though.

Now it's another waiting game. The actual tests are 6-8 weeks to get results. I'd like to hope we're close to 6 weeks and not 8 weeks. But I also know it will be whatever it is. I can't control it. I will patiently wait for the counselor to call me back. Depending on the actual results, one of my doctors (who will also get a copy of the report) may be calling me as well.

I won't be mailed a copy of the results though. I'll have to get a copy from the genetic counselor (or doctor). I guess they don't want you to see you have some weird mutation and freak out? It's good though. I'm sure it will be a lot to digest, even if it shows there is nothing there at all (because then what caused it?). If it shows something that could have repercussions, the counselor will also go over what additional medical things I should be doing ... scans, tests, etc.

I was given a lot of information that day. I came home and promptly filed it all away without reading it. They are testing 19 DNA points. 19. I figured why learn about 19 mutations, what each one means, and start to fret about it before knowing if I even needed to learn about it. Once we know, I'll tackle it all.

In the meantime, I'm waiting. And I'm actually waiting patiently. Summer has been busy so far and that's been a big help in passing the time! But still. I'm waiting. Wondering if this will show something or not.

Has anyone else done more than BRCA testing? Did you think it was worth it? I'm so curious. No one else I've talked to has had this done, and yet, I know somewhere out there other people have! So, if you have, can you share in the comments? Thanks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Craziness!

Summer has been flying by so far!

I think every summer I think it's going to be relaxing, with time by the pool to read and daydream, maybe take a quick dip. And every summer I'm shocked that things are so crazy and busy. You'd think by now I'd have learned!

It's good, it's just busy!

We're feeling pretty situated in the new place now. Still some boxes to unpack, but mostly the unimportant stuff that I won't unpack until I need it - which in some cases could mean never. I suppose that's my sign to get rid of it, but I hold on anyway.

The kids have some summer camps. Thankfully, one child is taking her with a neighborhood friend and those parents have been driving. I can't even begin to describe how awesome and helpful that has been!

I'm back in occupational therapy for some new cording issues. We caught them super-early though, and just a few sessions in and things are so much nicer (and not so tight). My therapist is an angel straight from heaven. She's the same woman I saw last year who, in my opinion, did some miracles with my body. So I had pretty high hopes going in this time, and she's met them and exceeded them!

I've started a new crochet project that I'm so excited about! And a few more craft projects in the works! Of course the trick is to find time to work on them.

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far!