Friday, July 25, 2014

Random Thoughts

July is almost over. Where did it go?

We've been busy. We're always busy. Do does that mean we're not busy and we're just normal?

Miss 11 modeling the shirt she made
It's County Fair Week. Once again my 4-H'er had lots of projects to turn in. Which meant lots of projects to finish. Which meant me trying to help, without helping, because they are after all, her projects and not mine. We found a good balance this year with it though, so that was good! She worked really hard and I'm proud of her. She got some pretty good ribbons too - not that that is the point, but it sure is a nice thing!

My cancer is not back. I know, I know, weird statement to make. Except in June I wasn't feeling very well at all. I went to the primary care who tested for a heck of a lot of things, only to say she couldn't find anything and I needed to go to the oncologist as she was worried there might be cancer in my bones. So, yeah, that was a few weeks of awful sleep and lots of worry. And oh, not really talking about it because it was probably nothing so no need to worry anyone so don't tell anyone. Which was smart, because it is nothing. So there is no need to worry.

Except, I'm still exhausted all the time. Thanks to some good pain killers though, I am no longer in excruciating pain which is good. I must have hurt my rib cage somehow (and no, I don't know how and there were no bumps or bruises or red spots), but it hurt. A lot. But it's much better now.

Which you can tell if you look at my fitbit stats ... my steps were pretty low for a bit. But now they are more "normal" and I'm breaking 10,000 steps more and more often. I like walking so it's good that I can do it now without wanting to cry. Plus, let's be honest, I like to be in the top 5 on my friends list - though some of my friends are making this hard to do, as 4 of them average about 20,000 steps a day. I'm not ready to compete with that yet, but I'll get as close as I can!

Me, on a bike ;-)
I've also started taking small bike rides. We live so close to so many things, and while I like to walk there, the kids enjoy riding bikes a lot more. I haven't gone over a few miles yet (don't laugh at me please!) but even still, my thighs feel like jelly when we are done. I have a goal to bike 20 miles between now and the end of August. Which is sad, small goal compared to some people, but it's perfect for me. So I'll take it and try to get there. Plus, before we know it, winter will be here and I won't want to be outside at all, so getting some biking in now is a good move.

Speaking of activity, I just got released from occupational therapy. Which I've been doing since the end of May for my lymphedema arm. I had some cording issues come back and everything was just tight, tight, tight. But we broke up the cording, loosened things up, and all is well. So no more going. Which is great because it's quite a time investment to do it. Though, I love my therapist. I would happily go sit at starbucks for hours and chat with her. But I'm glad I don't need to see her for therapy. Of course, I was released from therapy last August and ended back up there again this year. So we'll see how long before I do have to go back. Hopefully not too soon!

Other than that, August means back to school, with a child entering school. For real. Not homeschooled anymore. Gulp. I'm going to miss her when she's away, but I know this is going to be awesome for her! August means camp for the two younger ones. Sleep-away camp. For a week. This is their second year going though, so everyone is a lot less nervous than last year! It also means the start of a small vacation for Miss 11, who will be getting to go visit the grandparents by herself for a week! The oldest did it around this same age, so I guess now we can call it an official tradition!

There are about a million more things to tell you, a million more things racing around in my mind, but for today, I think this is enough!

Hope everyone is having a great Friday and it's followed by a fabulous weekend!

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.

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


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!