For those of you that know me you know that I have been spending a large part of the last dozen (and thats a bakers dozen this year) years scrapping and as is the natural progression I began to strive to improve my photography. Yes, I am proud to say that I have mastered keeping straps and thumbs out of the photos and have now achieved the milestone of taking most photos in focus ( except when I deliberately blur parts). Feeling rather cocky and assured of my ability to do a photo shoot..........I set out to do my very first baby & family photo shoot. I am incredibly lucky to have a photogenic family but I think I did pretty darn good. So I thought I would share a couple of sneak peeks of these photos.
So I have been doing some playing around with my scrapping and I thought I would share with you some of the accomplishments that I haven't shared to this point. Only I went on a real submission tyraid and then realized that meant I can't share until my answers are in. Sooooooo Sorry nothing fun and exciting to share there for the time being.
I have a dear and wonderful friend named Noelle, she is a wonderful and amazing woman and provides me with incredible inspiration. Last night was no different. She will under go a life changing operation tomorrow and as has become our habit we spent several hours solving the worlds problems. Last night we were comparing what we both hate about having cancer...............and what started as a light hearted banter has now become a full fledged rant...........Are the ideas all mine and mine alone.........nope not even close, but what I did do is gather them up (from all over and from talking with Noelle last night) and personalize them to reflect things that I did not share with so many of you last year. It is not easy to read...I am pretty blunt with many things but...for the past year I have been glossing things over. I shared it with a couple of people and asked them should I post this. As forceful as it is in some points they are pushing for me to share this. I thought about scrapping this rant............but that would exclude some from reading. So I will in fact scrap these emotions but at the encouragement of my friends I am going to share this with all of you. If it causes you to only reflect for a moment and then put it aside until you encounter a new cancer paitent then this will be worth it to me. If you find yourself offended for that I apologize...........but not for the content. Thanks Noelle, for inspiring me to share this.
For those that are easily offended this is a good point to click away from my page.
In February of 2009 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I went through nine months of trying to diagnose the type and get my body ready for chemotherapy. Then I endured 5 weeks of chemotherapy, surgery and 9 weeks of surgical complications, everything looks really good, and now I have had my post-chemo scans they indicate remission for now. I am finally done with treatments. YaHoo! This is very good news for me. I still have a lots of medical follow up because of the rapid developing nature, but I’m real happy about being clear and I am excited to get on with my life.
I was a good cancer patient, no, a great cancer patient. I was tough. I didn’t curl up in a ball and hide, I faced it, I sucked it up, and got through it. I worked really hard to put up a brave face and assure others that I would be fine. I’m not looking for a medal, I just want to preface what I am going to say with the fact that I am not whiney or self-pitying, and that I realize that I am not the only one who’s had to deal with this crap, and that there are far worse things that could have happened to me. I have a wonderful family and a few caring friends that formed a very good support system for me. I cannot thank them enough for all their love.
That said, here is my rant. This goes out to everyone I know, and those that I don’t know yet but who read my blog and know someone else with cancer.
1. There is no good kind of cancer. Yes, this kind of cancer at my stage has an 85-90% survival rate. That’s great, I am happy about that really, I am, but that doesn’t make it good or any better than any other kind of cancer. Cancer is a scary thing, the treatment is excruciating, and at the end of the day, if you happen to get lucky and be one of the 10-15% that didn’t survive, that statistic turns from a good one to a pretty horrible one. Think about it people, it sucks. That’s one in ten who contract it will die. Can you picture ten family members or friends. Do you have them pictured in your mind? If one of those loved persons just up and died, would you say oh well, the other nine are still alive? I didn’t think so. So please, don’t tell me I got the good kind of cancer, or at least it was caught early, don’t even suggest it. For heavens sake please don’t say, “Well, at least you didn’t get _________ cancer, that would really suck” or “It could have been worse!” Hello People! this pretty much REALLY sucks. The next time you get cancer, I’ll ask you if you think the kind you got is good, or are you grateful that it was caught when it was caught.
2. I wish that people would think twice about what they are about to say before they say it. Please don’t tell me things I don’t want to hear. For some reason people feel compelled to tell me about “my (mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, insert any other relative or even remote acquaintance here) that just died of cancer. Or my all time favourite line.....Right, my (insert distant relative/long lost friend here) died of Breast cancer. What in God’s name are you thinking?? I have been diagnosed with a terrible disease and am undergoing intensive and debilitating treatment, and you are going to stand there and tell me about someone dying? What? Seriously? Give your head a shake! It’s better just to not chime in here. At the risk of repeating myself..... the next time you get cancer, I’ll try this line out on you and you can let me know how that works for you.
4. This is also not the time to insist on taking me, or any cancer patient, to a movie that the hero or heroine has cancer and will die from it. Even if they don’t die........I don’t need to see or hear them going through simulated treatments. I am living this and I don’t need to be reminded in bigger than life format what I will be going through all too soon. Yes, it’s a great movie or story but unless it’s about beating the odds and or developing amazing inner strength.................let’s just save this special time for when you have cancer and you can let me know how it is working for you.
3. DO NOT ask or comment about my hair. With the kind of chemo I had, my hair started falling out around treatment #2, a few hairs at first, then several handfuls at a time until I finally, and very sadly, shaved my head. THAT WAS REALLY HARD TO DO. It’s about a lot of things it’s about vanity and feeling ugly, it’s about the stigma of being sick and that being obvious to the world, it’s about not knowing who you are without your hair/eyelashes/eyebrows, it’s complicated. And, I understand to those of you with hair that this is really superficial shit. But to me, and I am sure there are others, it’s very real and it’s extremely emotional. So making comments like how’s your hair doing? Wow, it’s really thinning out! So is your hair just coming out in handfuls? How come you’re bald so quickly? Why don’t you have a wig? These questions are not helpful and WILL make me cry, when you walk away with your lovely head of hair. If you think this is stupid or oversensitive, let me say it again: next time you get cancer let me know how these questions make you feel.
4. Don’t tell me it’s going to be ok. Bottom line is this I know I want everything to be ok, and I know you want everything to be ok you wouldn’t be my friend/involved family member if that weren’t the case. Unfortunately, we BOTH know that it just might not be ok. We BOTH know that there exists the possibility that it’s not going to be ok and that the disease isn’t going to respond, or in my case there is a high probability that it is going to come back, and that even if I am tough and brave, it could kill me. I am tired of always putting up a false front agreeing with you because I know in my heart....you really don’t want to hear or face the alternatives. I have had to deal and cope with the concept of my mortality since the word cancer came out of the doctor’s mouth, again. In that moment, and in the hours and days to come, I know what could happen that everything may not be ok. If I didn’t know that, cancer wouldn’t be such a big deal, now would it? If death wasn’t a possibility, we wouldn’t have shed tears when we heard the news. So, for my sake and others that you will know, don’t say that line. I know it’s the first thing that comes to mind, and I know you mean well, but try something else that will actually means something, and that you truly mean like: Whenever you need anything I’ll be there, or This is going to be rough but I’m here for you! or I’m on my way over with a good movie and a cold drink or even just say Give them hell!. I know you may not get it, but next time you get cancer we will share a profound understanding. I tell you that I know it may not be ok and that I know that this is real scary.
5. Don’t comment about my weight. Ok, here’s something that many people just don’t know. There is what we call fat cancer and skinny cancer.........your surprised aren’t you? It’s okay because I didn’t know before I was introduced to the world of Chemotherapy.
Despite popular misconception and belief Chemotherapy is NOT a weight loss plan! YES my dear family and friends it is true. They have indeed, discontinued all the fringe benefits from the cancer club membership. Turns out, they give you steroids that make you hungry all the damned time. And, you feel like complete shit and don’t even have enough energy to walk up the stairs, much less to exercise. In the beginning when I was still trying to figure out how to deal with shitty side effects like constant vomiting, painful mouth sores, etc, I lost weight because I just literally didn’t want to eat. But once I got that under control, the hunger would come on, and man, I can eat a lot. I was never a small person with well defined muscles to begin with but none the less I find my clothes size increasing. What little shreds of muscle I did have... have turned into mushy fat and I’m not happy about it, but during treatment there you are not given an option, there is no quick fix, hell there is just no fix at all because your concentrating of just getting through the basics. So before you open your mouth and spew out comments like, the wow, you’ve put a couple on, haven’t you? or I thought you are supposed to lose weight on chemo comments are not helpful and again, they will make me cry, when you walk away. Next time you get cancer, see how you feel when I tell you to hit the gym.
6. Chemotherapy sucks. I thought everyone knew that. I don’t know what the first thing is that pops into your head when you read that word, but I would venture to guess that it’s not something warm and fuzzy. It sucks, it really sucks. You vomit, are nauseated (which is so much worse than vomiting) all the time, you get terrible headaches, your desire to sleep increases tenfold, or if you are really lucky you can be an insomniac, you get sores in your mouth (and not just one or two) and chronic yeast infections, you get seriously and painfully constipated, your brain malfunctions and you can’t remember your name hardly never mind how to get to the bus stop or where you normally leave the toothpaste, your whole body hurts, and if you are really lucky your nails fall off (that’s a special treat that is seldom broadcast and I will thank my lucky stars now that it didn’t happen to me but they are not the healthy strong nails that I used to have) and now they can give you shots to stimulate white blood cell production, that cause relentless, incapacitating pain that made you simply want to give up on living just to make it stop. Ok, I said it, chemotherapy sucks and I am really good at being tough and not letting everyone know all the shitty stuff that was happening to me. I know that people ask how you are but they really don’t want to hear the whole truth. So I will tell you that it is not so bad, or that I am lucky and still show up for work, because somewhere inside you.... you know it sucks. So if I can hide all that I am experiencing, understand that my sympathy levels for your might be coming down with a cold or scratchy throat are not really high. (Not to mention that you shouldn’t be anywhere near me with my reduced immunity). I know you really don’t feel good, but common man, suck it up or at least go tell someone else who doesn’t have cancer. Next time you are going through chemo, you too will want to drop kick the asshole that spends ten minutes talking about how bad their hangover is.
7. It‘s a REALLY long road. Twelve months is a long time to be sick, and get this, I get to live with residual side effects for another 12 to 18 months. It just is, and I KNOW (I really know) that it gets old. In the beginning everyone called all the time, offered to go to chemo with me, sent lots of e-mails filled with promises (but few if any were kept), but after the months drag on it’s like people get sick of it. I understand that cause I got pretty sick of it too. I got sick of not feeling well and having to find the inner strength to do the basics, not being able to do anything fun, not seeing anyone, And always answering that damned How are you feeling? question. I have a wonderful friend and mother who listened, even when it got old, even when they got sick of hearing me say I felt like shit. They still did it because they knew I needed them. I needed other people too, I needed my girlfriends to just come over with a movie or their latest scrapbook creation, or to call me on the days they knew I had treatment, or to just call when they hadn’t heard from me in days. A couple did and most just disappeared into thin air. You know who you are and why you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t feel comfortable or maybe you were too busy. Regardless, I love you, and I will be there for you the next time you get cancer.
I really, really hope you never get cancer. I mean that for everyone even if you are a jerk, even if you really deserve to have something horrible and rotten happen to you I hope you don’t get cancer. It’s awful. I’m not one of those ‘I’m a survivor! types, I’m not one of those in-your-face super tough post-cancer freaks, I’m really normal and I will get over this. That said, if you do get cancer or if your friend or (insert any relative here) gets cancer, you can bet your bottom dollar that if/when I hear about it I’ll be on your/their doorstep with a big teary welcome to the cancer club hug and a mop and bucket to clean the floors, or dinner so you/they don’t have to make it, or whatever it takes, for as long as it takes and you won’t have to ask for it, and you won’t have to say thanks, because we’ll both just know. It’s a special club and we take care of our own.
Thank you everyone for reading and sharing in my world this week.
Thank you everyone for reading and sharing in my world this week.