Every Now and Then I Fall Apart

As always, I have started writing this post several times, and several thousand times in my head, but I haven’t necessarily wanted to share broadly all of the thoughts I’ve had swirling.

Although some of the news has been crappy, the crappiest has not been entirely mine to share.

To get this out of the way, although I had a quick scare where I found something lump-like, it was just a scare, and my physical health is fine. I could use to be more active, lose some weight, and anxiety is my constant companion, but other than that fine.

More than April Showers

The bulk of this story starts the last week of April 2018. I had been working remotely (from Snoqualmie) for a tech company based in New Jersey, which had been expanding and contracting on the marketing side, although I was the only person with “communications” in my title for the entire time I was there.

I learned a ton, did some work I was really proud of, but in general was spread so thin I thought I might be able to actually reach HQ from my house. So, it was not a shock, and even a little bit of a relief when I got laid off for the first time in my life.

The biggest relief was because of the bulk of my news in this post. Earlier that same day, my mom, who was diagnosed with Colon Cancer that same week in 2010 (and I wrote about in 2013) called to tell me that her colon cancer had spread, in the form of eight tumors in her brain.

Summer of My Discontent

The other big thing that happened just a few weeks later was my youngest boy, aka our Cockapoo, Fenway, showed signs of Congestive Heart Failure. He didn’t stop breathing at home, but it was touch and go for a while. We had to sign a DNR, because CPR only works in like 2% of cases like his. He spent a few days in a special oxygen cage at our vet hospital, and he now has a canine cardiologist. Which we traveled to Oregon for, because they are overbooked in Seattle. Who knew?

I figured out going on unemployment for the first time in my life, and was applying for jobs to keep that going, but was trying to be picky. I didn’t want to just get another job, I wanted to make a career move. In the meantime, I was trying to make the most of the one gift the layoff gave me, time.

We visited my dad in southern Oregon, where he and his wife moved for his own health reasons. I taught my 15-year-old how to drive. I got in some quality dates with my husband. I spent a lot of time in Olympia with my mom.


The first thing mom did was get whole head radiation to reduce her tumors. Her hair fell out, there were new wigs, but this time it was harder and harder to heal. Her doctors at some point told us that with her original 2010 prognosis, she wasn’t expected to make it more than 2 or 3 years. They had tried every single treatment they could in the next several years, but after the radiation and returning to her original chemo, we didn’t really have anything new to try.

We needed to prepare to say goodbye.

Mom was still working pretty much full time as a victim advocate for the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office. She had to take time occasionally for treatments, but she started to even go into work on Fridays, when she was wearing a pump that delivered a drug so toxic, she could only take a drop every 15 min, so the tiny bag of chemo had to be delivered over something like 36 hours. She used to take the day off because she didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. After 8.5 years, she finally reached the point of “fuck that noise” (my words, not necessarily hers) and went to work anyway. It made a few people uncomfortable at first, but they got over it.

Over the next several months, the chemo kept the tumors somewhat at bay, but never completely. She developed enough new tumors in her liver that we went to Spokane for one last Hail Mary of a treatment, known as Y-90, where they went directly in through her femoral artery and sent little glass beads full of radiation to her liver. It worked for a short time.

But it was now the summer of 2019. She has been undergoing chemo for pretty much 8 of the last 9.5 years. And she was taking more and more time off of work as the treatments took their toll. So, this summer, I spent a lot more time in Olympia, and as of July 31 she officially retired.

Miss Congeniality

In the meantime, I had been interviewing for a lot of roles, but always seemed to be the runner up. I didn’t have enough of a tech background. I was too senior; I was not senior enough. I finally started doing some consulting work, because although my husband has been wonderful and patient as I spent more and more time not working and helping mom, I was starting to climb the walls. And although I know I have more to offer the world than what I do at work, way too much of my self-worth is tied up there. So, as my ego deflates more and more, I shrink into myself.

The worst came when I was on a job for 12 days when I got fired, another first in my life. No one actually pulled out the words, but I had been trying hard to make things work despite some communications issues (I have other words, I will not put them in writing) and suddenly lost access to the document I was editing without warning. That was October 1, 2019.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

I know the song has NOTHING to do with what I have been dealing with, but I keep having Bonnie Tyler’s words flow just outside my consciousness.

Every now and then I get a little bit restless and I dream of something wild
Every now and then I get a little bit helpless and I’m lying like a child in your arms
Every now and then I get a little bit angry and I know I’ve got to get out and cry
Every now and then I get a little bit terrified but then I see the look in your eyes

Every now and then I fall apart

I have lost track of days, but since then, they have moved too fast and slow at the same time.

I had a couple of days of wallow, when I went and dragged my mom to my house. She’d been lonely & a little bored, so I “kidnapped” her to my house, to see my kid (now driving on his own as a High School Junior) and took her to his Cross Country meet. She didn’t feel well, had been having “intestinal distress” as someone who has a half a colon and many years of chemo is wont to do. She wanted to be home, so I brought her to Olympia.

The next week, I got a call. She wasn’t acting normal. I finally got her on the phone, and she seemed okay, but I told her I’d come down to take her to chemo the next day, October 17. When I arrived, she didn’t remember any conversations with me. She was so dehydrated that she couldn’t walk, could barely talk, and ended up not even remembering most of that week until we got two bags of IV hydration into her over two days. We also decided to stop chemo. Her tumor markers were coming back up, and it was obvious that the chemicals we were putting in her body to kill the cancer were finally killing her.

We went through a blur of changes. My brother got a one-way ticket from his home in LA to be here and help her as needed. We fought to get her more hydration as it seemed to be the only thing that helped. All she could stomach were meals I found from her old recipe files, many in my grandmother’s handwriting. That and our old family recipe for fudge.

We got her on home hospice. They brought a wheelchair and a seat for the shower and a seat that helped her get on and off the toilet. We went from her falling every day to less and less falls, and I started contacting family. She has a sister and three brothers, and those closest could visit, she spoke with her youngest brother on the phone. My husband and I took a quick overnight trip, and my boys (son and dog) spent some quality time with her, although she was only really awake from 10a-5p or so.

My brother had to make a trip home for a job, and she promised to hang on until he got back, although she kept getting weaker. When I booked the flight, I added in some extra days for him at home, and he brought his girlfriend, who hadn’t been here before. I agreed to be here to make sure she had someone on hand.

On Thursday, November 14 the only sibling she hadn’t seen came to visit. She was tired, but I wasn’t alarmed. That night, she only ate a couple of bites of dinner and fell asleep on the couch. She has not fully woken up since.

As of this writing it is November 23. She has gone nine full days with no food or water, with only 2-3 short moments of lucidity on the 16th when she talked to my brother, husband and son on Facetime. She smiled and said “I love you too” when prompted. Other than those moments, we have been here to support her as we wait for her to let go.

I have had a lot of friends lose parents in recent years. Our parents are getting to be that age. Everyone wishes they had more time with their mom. So, I feel like a complete asshole as I try to figure out what will make her let go. She has amazed the medical community at every turn but watching this husk of my mother in pain is slowly killing me. I can’t leave, she wouldn’t want to be alone, and I would hate myself for blinking when I have been here this long.

I don’t want to talk about it, because there is no news, and nothing of use to say. Although I have tried so hard to be strong for everyone…

Every now and then I fall apart.


Done With My Graceless Heart

Yet again, it has been so long since I have written, that I have a hard time figuring out what I actually want to say… and how much or how little to talk about.

I even started THIS post two months ago, on the 5 year anniversary of my 12-hour-equals-8.5-pounds-of-weight-off-my-chest surgery. To be honest, I wonder if the writer’s block I have in general is the words that keep knocking around in my head. So as Lady Gaga says (in what I choose to believe is her best Mario Kart impression): “Here we go!”

I have a few posts that I should have posted, so here are the mini-themes.


I don’t like to talk about what happened when I was in elementary school. The people who need to know, know. I resented my mom for several years for making me still have contact with a relative until I learned she didn’t know. And now it’s been long enough that I just block that it wasn’t OK. Much worse things have happened to other people. It was just a little showing things and touching things that made me uncomfortable.

But I think a lot of that comes from the messed up society we’re in.

Until five years ago in August, as soon as I hit puberty, true or not, I believed I had one defining physical characteristic. It was not my glowing smile. (Spoiler: it was my really big chest.)

So if I was brushed up against in the hall, it was probably my fault. When an anchor came from the network and instead of putting his hand on top of my shoulder for the picture I knew my mom would want to have, he wrapped it under my arm to cop a little feel, he didn’t mean it. They were just so there, how could he have missed it?

I am ashamed to admit, I know of one instance where I was even a part of the problem. A female colleague was suing for harassment after a particularly sleazy colleague grabbed her at work. It’s an involved story, but I ended up working every single holiday that year, in large part because she was no longer coming in and I’d already made the vacation schedule for Thanksgiving through New Years… and even if I didn’t say it out loud, I know I thought, “Dude, he grabbed your butt. What’s the big deal? Suck it up buttercup!”

I was young, and in TV News, and it was so pervasive, so EXPECTED, that I was more irritated that I had to work than sympathetic as I should have been. And there’s no excuse.

You Don’t Own Me:

I think that had to do, a lot, with why I started sobbing uncontrollably after watching two videos, one a memory from 5 years ago where I talked about how important it was to vote to keep things like access to Planned Parenthood available. Remember when Mitt Romney seemed scary — like he would limit access to things like basic health care for women? We told him then, “You Don’t Own Me!

And thinking how much harder it is to deal with today’s reality than I believe it would have been to deal with Romney as President, I was already tearing up. And when the 2016 DNC version of Fight Song came up on the YouTube sidebar, I shouldn’t have clicked.

But I did. And thank GOD I work from home because the floodgates opened. I have never been a pretty crier. It’s like I’m having an allergic reaction to my own face. I get puffy and red and there’s a lot of snot.

And as the song played, I sobbed like I have not sobbed in a long time, remembering how hopeful we all were just a year ago. And how painfully polarized we’ve become.

There was a period of several months when I was afraid to have contact with my father. He is proud that he registered as a member of the GOP for the first time in 40 years to vote for 45. And no matter how much I love him, the things he supports, taking away women’s healthcare, building a wall, the “fake news” vendetta, are so emotionally charged for me that I just can’t have some conversations.

And I know he blames me that I won’t talk to him about any of this, but I just can’t. Every time he starts to talk about politics, he rips into another belief that I thought he helped me come to, of what is right and what is wrong.

My hopeful, fighting spirit is so tired.

So back to the original post.

Confessions of a Fraud:

I spent a lot of time on the title of this post back when I started, but the bottom line is that I haven’t been writing because I didn’t want to admit to myself that I am not actually a ninja.

On one hand, I’ve been afraid to share because I don’t want people to rally around & say nice things. I’ll get to why in a minute, but since I’ve tried so hard to be honest about what I’m going through here, I feel like I should share. Like maybe it will help, but I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me.

I don’t know that I’m clinically depressed, but for more than a year I’ve been in a deep funk. Again, this is self-diagnosed, but I feel like I have a particularly insidious combination of things that aren’t actually diagnosed anyway. Survivor guilt, and imposter syndrome.

I’ve talked about my mom. And she is SO strong. She is still going through chemo. She is still fighting. But since my chemo experience was only a few months, and she’s going on six years, I feel SO GUILTY. I had this great community of people who rallied around me, and I got through it.

If I didn’t tell people, no one who met me today would know that I had cancer.

But the people who DO know, who HAVE known me… I’m pretty sure I’ve got you all snowed.

I posted a pic a couple of weeks ago of me getting my Breast Cancer Awareness Month treatment, and people again talked about how strong I am. So brave. Such a fighter.

Such bullshit.

I haven’t been able to post because I’m afraid you’ll all say it again, and it’s just not true.  So many people have been through so much worse. People I know and love, people I have never met. So who am I to complain?

I changed jobs from one that was not a great fit (terrific people, but I never felt like I could get my rhythm and the commute was awful) to one where I’m challenged but don’t always know what I’m doing. And I have the great advantage of working from home.

It’s terrific to save a couple of hours a day and be able to do things like pick my high school freshman up after XC practice a couple of days a week.

But when people ask how I’m doing, I laugh and tell them I’ve become a hermit.

I’m not kidding.

This summer was lovely, but I would tell myself I had to work, or it was too hot. So I never leave my office/guest room.

My son really needs to bulk up, and he likes ice cream, so we have to have ice cream.

It’s like I’ve decided to show off how much I hate my body, how I don’t deserve admiration, by going past my normal pill-bug mode and straight up hiding. I’m at my heaviest, likely least healthy, and trying to decide if I’ve hit rock bottom or I’m ready to bounce.

If you’ve been here before, you know I’ve dug myself out of these holes before. This one may feel deeper. Darker. And complete with a side of trying to parent a son through puberty.

And there may be some ugly tears, and reading through to remind myself that I said, smart, inspiring things sometimes. Even when they hard to believe. So I’m going to channel my inner Florence:

‘Cause I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
‘Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Oct 23, 2017

Me, today. No makeup, no filters. Warts and all.

Is it all just PR?

So, a couple of things before I lead into the post, which I’m cross posting from the blog at my new place of employment… Voxus PR.

First, yes, I have a new job. Still doing public relations, but with a much smaller agency.  Waggener Edstrom (or WE as they are now known) was a terrific place for me to learn the craft, but at almost 8 years there I felt like I was starting to get complacent. Not good for me, the agency, or my clients. I wish my friends there nothing but the best.

Second, I’m going to stop beating myself up about infrequent posts. People, I keep telling you all that we should just reach out to each other, right? So if I’m not posting, it is likely because I have nothing ninja-like to say… and if you want an update, I’m 99% sure that you know how to find me. You can even just post a comment here — I see all of those. 🙂

Me, Sept 2015

The Breast Cancer Ninja 2015 (see- hair & all)

So to the main event:

Last month I wrote this new blog for my new job, and talked about some “Personal Relations” strategies for starting a new gig, and included a few juxtapositions.

Listen but don’t be afraid to speak.

Make sure your work is good, but don’t expect perfect.

Reinvent yourself, but BE yourself.

The last one I’ve had some intense inner debates about.

When I left TV for PR, I took my husband’s name professionally for the first time. I had already legally dumped the middle name that my parents made up & I never liked… and kept my maiden name of Dyer. It’s got a lot of history both personally & ancestrally that I was not willing to give up. But I’d been married for more than 10 years, so seemed right to make the change.

This time, I’m bringing an alter ego.

Rocking the Pink Wig in the office

Rocking the Pink Wig, October 2012

I thought about keeping the Breast Cancer Ninja to myself professionally. No one NEEDS to know I am a breast cancer survivor. It doesn’t seem like I blog very often lately, because I’m just living my life. Although it will always be a part of who I am, I don’t need to explain my bald  head anymore.

When we hit Breast Cancer Awareness Month (aka Pinktober) I’m always torn.  On one hand, I am happy to be someone talking about a bilateral mastectomy and 4 months of chemo at age 38 because, well, I know a lot of other people aren’t as comfortable putting themselves out there.

But I really wish we could move past “Awareness.” Dude. Most people are totally AWARE of Breast Cancer. Let’s take ACTION!  Let’s make sure that the NCI is totally funded, so they can continue to fund those working for a cure. Lots of the pink crap that people buy is is to “raise money for awareness.” Let’s face it, awareness didn’t stop my cancer.  My willingness to take action did.

But October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.  Something that I think “awareness” can do a lot more to solve. For example, things changed a LOT when we were more AWARE (because of the video) for Ray Rice, right?

I get it. Talking about “save the boobies” is much more “sexy” than talking about somebody knocking around their girlfriend, or kids, or even husband. But it is no less important.  I think that the boobs just get better PR.

The same week my blog posted, the Pope was also in the US, and I read this really interesting article, saying he’s not really as progressive as people think he is, he just gets good PR.

So what do you think?  Can the current Pope’s popularity with non-Catholics and Breast Cancer’s advantage really just be about PR?

Never Gonna Give You Up

Never gonna let you down

Never gonna run and desert you

Yeah- you’ve been Rickrolled. Deal with it. 🙂

I don’t have a ton to say, but it seems like I’d be remiss to let the third anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy go without being marked in some way… and the most appropriate way I can think of is an Oregon red, and a little web babbling.

I’ve actually had a super interesting summer. My company gives employees a 6 week sabbatical after 7 years at the agency, which I hit last December. I held off taking it until summer, when my teacher hubby and student son would be off as well… and you are allowed to add two weeks of vacation time on to the 6 weeks off, so it’s now been 7 weeks since I’ve been to work. One more before I’m due to return.

The BIG thing we did was take a trip to Ireland. We’ve talked about it as a once in a lifetime, but I have every intention of going back, so that’s kind of a misnomer. However, it was the first time my hubby, my kid or I had been off of the continent, and it was pretty awesome.

The other big thing I’ve been up to is catching up with friends who I haven’t seen in a while… at least in person. That’s been pretty great, although it’s funny, even though I think I’ve been open with my health to the point of being obnoxious, I’ve still managed to drop a couple of my cancer bombs on people.

Me: Well, you know, and then there was the whole cancer thing a couple of years ago…

Them: What? What cancer thing?

Me: <mentally gearing up to tell the story, AGAIN> Oh… I assumed you knew…<shortest possible version of story>

To be clear, I assume that people have much more interesting things to talk about and/or pay attention to than my health, but when I kept posting pics of my fuzzy head, I keep assuming that somehow people are tangentially aware.


So still nothing new, my health is still great for a 41 year old, artificially menopaused, breast cancer survivor.  I’ve lost some more weight, which is great.  Still no evidence of disease, although for my last day of sabbatical I’ve got the yearly GYN ultrasound scheduled… because nothing says vacation like a trans-vaginal ultrasound, am I right?

I’d meant to find a hobby this summer. I keep trying them, but I haven’t found anything other than reading trashy romance novels that sticks.

I was also planning to find a volunteer thing I love to do that I could continue on a regular basis, but all I managed to do is drag the kid out to help with Obliteride. I will probably do the 10 miler next year. All proceeds go to Women’s Cancer @ Fred Hutch, and since as I pointed out, I have given them blood, breast tissue, DNA, and pretty much anything else they’ve asked for in the name of making this cancer shot go away, I figured giving time was the least I can do.

I am getting better at Zen, que sera, sera, or whatever. I don’t mean that when there’s a fight to be had I will lay down. But I’m trying to be better at picking my battles.

The best news of this whole time has been that my mom’s chemo has been successful. They started with chemo, planning to do surgery, and by the time she was done, there was nothing on her PET scans to cut out. BIG DAMN DEAL. Unfortunately they are keeping her on a lower dose of chemo for the foreseeable future (again, lovely Oregon red, so I’m blanking on if it’s for 6 months or 12) but still better.

I worry about my parents, neither of them are getting any younger, but I don’t always call, figuring they’re busy. And they don’t call, figuring I’m busy. I’m sure there’s some cat in the cradle thing going on there, but it brings me home to my best lesson of the summer.

I’ve said it before, and since I’m planning to have at least 47 more years here, I’d bet I’ll say it again, but carpe your damn diem. Gather ye rosebuds.

There has not been one single case in the last few weeks, hell, in the last three years, where I’ve reached out to someone, even just to say hello, and I’ve regretted it.

We ALL assume that other people are too busy.

Any maybe they are, but even just being reminded that we think of each other feels good. It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to ping them on Facebook. Or send a text.

Really, life is too short to give each other up.

You Give Love A Bad Name

Shot in the butt, and you’re to blame… cancer you give love, a bad name.

Oh, that’s not how it goes?

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted… and I actually started this post a month ago, but I haven’t been in the head space to share in a while.

Hell, I don’t know that I am now, but here I go.

There have been three big updates since I posted last.

As my first line alludes to, I’ve started a new hormone therapy regimen, with a shot of Lupron (in the butt) and then an Aromatase Inhibitor or AI every day to replace my Tamoxifen. My doc’s drug of choice is Arimidex.

We made that choice because I came out of my chemically induced menopause, and started to have a cycle again. Between that, and the knowledge that being on an AI is more effective than being on Tamoxifen for the full 5 years that my hormone therapy is planned, it seemed like a no brainer.  The shot started as once a month, and at yesterday’s visit, we switched to once every three months.

In all, it’s been a good choice. Less headaches. Less hot flashes, or at least when I do get them, they are less extreme. More of a warm flash, than an all out fire.  However, last night I was pretty wiped out by the shot (I went to bed hours earlier than usual) and it still REALLY hurts at the site of the injection.  If it still hurts tomorrow, I’ll have to give them a call.

Thing two has been about food. The sidekick and I want to be healthier, so we’re trying an anti-inflammatory diet recommended by my naturopathic doctor. It’s a lot like paleo at first, but after eliminating a BUNCH of stuff for 3 weeks, you test to see what works or doesn’t work for your body, and then may be able to allow things like gluten, dairy, etc., back into your diet. We’re in the testing phase now, and I actually feel pretty good.  I could live without most of the things we’ve eliminated… except for the convenience & OBSESSING about food & planning. I have not been weighing myself, but between the 1st time I got a shot at SCCA and yesterday (3 months) I was down 10 lbs. And knowing that was most likely the food changes in the last month when I finally buckled down & started really DOING it, that feels pretty darn good.

Thing three has probably been weighing on me the most. My mom is back on chemo. Quick refresher- she was diagnosed with colon cancer about 5 years ago. Stage 4, but they were able to cut it all out. She went through chemo, it sucked, blah, blah. Just as it really felt like she was moving back to normal, my shit all went down. And as I finished my year of hell in 2011, she learned that she had two new tumors, this time on her liver. More surgery, more chemo. The whole time, she continued working as a victim advocate more hours than she is supposed to for her local prosecutor’s office. And in the last few months, she learned of two more tumors. Another on her liver, and this time one on her lung.  So she’s put off her planned trip to Italy this summer. And she’s buckling down to get through chemo again.

This has me scared on multiple levels. No matter how old you are, I don’t think anyone is ever ready to lose their mom. And when I talk to her, she sounds weaker. I tend to be afraid to call her on evenings or weekends, because I hope that she’s getting rest. And even more selfishly than not wanting to lose my mom or my son’s grandmother, it makes me worry for my own cancer.

If mom could beat cervical cancer 30 years ago, but now have to fight colon cancer again and again and AGAIN, does this mean that I’ll have to do the same? Not only do I not want to die today, but I REALLY don’t wan to deal with cancer again. In case you missed any of my earlier blogs, it more than kind of sucks.

So there you go. I have not been writing, because I’m scared to death, and although I know she doesn’t like attention but seems to me like I’m the world’s crappiest kid for not spending more time with her. Even though I refuse to allow myself to think that her time may be limited, that knowledge is always there.

This is also kicked me in the ass to get my own colonoscopy, which is scheduled for next month.  The prep for it makes the lifestyle changes we’re trying to make now look like child’s play. And then they are going to stick something up my butt and I have to pray that they don’t find anything. Yet another possibility that I refuse to face.

Oh cancer, you give EVERYTHING a bad name.


It’s funny how different we all think our lives would be, if we just had one thing that was different.

A different job, a different house, different family. Different looks. A different body.

I don’t think I could even estimate the number of times I’ve wondered if my excess booty “gave me cancer.” I try so hard not to take that blame on, as I really think it might break me. I’ve lived a relatively healthy life most of the time, but my weight has never been my friend. Even when I was at my thinnest (minor anorexia in high school), I’ve never really loved my body.

In 2009, when I started doing triathlons, even though I finished, I thought of myself as too big, too slow. I have finished several tris now, but I always made excuses.

The only exception, ironically, was 2001, when I did Seattle’s first Breast Cancer 3 Day.  It was a great experience, and I decided that if I was going to walk my ass off, I would do Weight Watchers, DID the program, and in losing 50 lbs, actually did walk my ass off.

I’m sure that slimmer body made it easier to get pregnant a little more than a year later. I don’t blame my current girth on an 11 year old & baby weight. I gained a LOT, but lost most of it nursing. It’s just easier to sit. Or to eat.  And today’s crazy ass hormones absolutely do not help.

In so many ways, I want to be the theoretical me who never had cancer, and can just move on. She’s a better wife, a better mother, a better friend than I am. She has more energy, and gets sleep at night, and volunteers for stuff.

But then I read statistics about the likelihood that it may come back. And I can’t just be that theoretical person.

So I think about things like working on my weight again. Theoretically, all I have to do is be more physically active & eat less.

But in truth, I’m almost paralyzed with fear.

It doesn’t help that there are so many other things to be stressed about. Work, Christmas, race relations in America. If it’s a thing, I can find a way to be stressed about. And being more active is not as easy in Seattle in the Winter. I’m not a skier, and I don’t like to be cold.

I even write all sorts of theoretical blogs in my head.  But if I don’t post then maybe people won’t read my next one. And I can say out loud that I’m scared.  Ninjas are supposed to be strong and fight. 50 years is a great theoretical goal, but it’s a really long effing time. What if I’m not lucky? What if it comes back? What if I do all the work, lose the weight that I want to, and it STILL comes back.

Over the next few months, I’m going to try to do better about some of the things, to see if they help with the rest of the things. I’m seeing a Naturopathic Doctor, who specializes in survivorship. Perhaps I’ll find the courage to do what I need & take charge again. I know that I CAN do it.

At least… theoretically.


Last year, and to a different extent the year before, I made a point of being super active in social media in October.

After all, it’s BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, so isn’t that my job?

But there are so many things that bother me, both the “pinkwashing” that happens, and the movement against it.

On one hand, I do think that it’s important to know where the money goes for “Breast Cancer” products. There are different charities I have my own personal opinions about.  But when stuff is just for “awareness,” and in SO many cases, it is, then it’s really about just getting you to buy stuff in pink.

On the other hand, I really like pink. I own a lot of things that are pink, that have nothing to do with ANYONE’S boobs. So damn it, if I want a white hat with a pink Seahawks logo, I’m going to get the damn hat. (And if they then win, say, the Super Bowl, I may buy additional pink hats for my other teams, damn it!)

I get how it’s gross that some company is selling pink drill bits for fracking. But I get frustrated by the idea that there’s ANY judging for people who are honestly trying to do the right thing.

So I’ve decided to quiet down this Pinktober.

Ninjas aren’t supposed to be about fighting loudly, we’re about the stealth fight.

So this month I’ll wear pink things, because I own and like pink things. If that makes someone think to check their boobs, that’s great.

And I’m doing some light social media amplification, because, I may fight in the shadows, but I still have a big mouth.

But I’m committed to making sure I come back & remind my friends and their friends to check their girls EVERY month.

It’s not just about mammograms once you’re 40. It’s fair to say I would have been at least stage 2, likely worse, if I’d waited those extra 18 months.

I found a lump in the shower. I knew something didn’t feel right, because I take a shower pretty often… and instead of ignoring the warning in the back of my head, I got it checked out

That’s REALLY all the “awareness” piece takes, no matter what month it is, or what color anyone is wearing.

Me in my Ninja hat!

October 12, 2012, just before I got my head shaved

What Lies Beneath

I’m more than a little irritated, as I’d written an entire post, did something odd, and it hadn’t auto-saved the draft. Of course, I’m sure I was much more eloquent the first time. Sorry to short change you. 🙂

The one thing I can give you, buzzed post. Not as much as either the day my hair fell out, or the big 40… but my glass of wine is not empty yet.

So, back to the point. Monday I had my second, and likely last, tattoo session. No, it wasn’t touching up something fun, or a memorial of my fight.

I was getting more pigment added to my nipples.

Even to people I’ve explained this to before, this sounds horrible & painful. I assure you, it is not. Not only are we talking about tattooing normal skin, but since when they do a mastectomy, they cut most of the  nerves to the skin, I have less sensation in my “boobs” than almost anywhere else in my body.  It’s still a strange sensation, as the muscles that are between the deadened skin & the non-organic implants still have feeling, but even without the numbing cream that they give me, I don’t feel much of anything. I’d say the feeling is kind of surreal, but after two years it’s become pretty familiar.

That’s right, two years today, I lost 8.5 lbs in 12 hours. If I could figure out how to do that again with out the whole surgery & cancer thing, I could make a LOT of money.

Anywhodle- the stone cold sober post I wrote the other day had nothing to do with the two year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy. Which is probably the day I should recognize as my cancerversary, but the sidekick doesn’t want to celebrate.

My post that I wrote the other day was about Robin Williams. And my former colleague who killed himself after a long battle with depression a couple months before the whole cancer thing rocked my world.  Both amazing people. Both would do so much for a friend, and even though they were both public about their fight, no one would have known.

Mental illness is one of those dirty secrets that no one talks about.  Like cancer used to be. Like domestic violence. Child abuse. Racism. Hate.

SO MANY THINGS that we just don’t talk about.

One of the things that really pissed me off this week was that anyone said ANY mean things to Williams’ family in social media.  WTF? I mean really?

And then I wonder, what horrible experience must they have had in their life that would make the thought to be so cruel even enter their heads. It’s something that I can’t even wrap my own head around.

I’ve always loved the Plato quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting hard battle.” I’ve seen additions to it, “that you know nothing about” but I don’t think that’s needed. It’s kind of implied.

I haven’t done such a great job with hiding my battle, and that has been both for me, and in my head, I justify the idea that it MIGHT help someone else.

But if you didn’t know me two years ago, or I didn’t open my big mouth, you’d never know that under my flowing top or dress, I had healing tattoos this week. I babble here, not really knowing if anyone reads the words that help me sleep at night. And then getting embarrassed when people praise them.

I know I pointed you to Stuart Scott in my last post. But I think it bears repeating, although this time, replace “cancer” with any kind of hidden battle:

“When you die, it doesn’t mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner which you live.” – Stuart Scott

But the next line is even more important for folks like Robin Williams, who are fighting a different invisible battle, “So live, LIVE. Fight like hell, and when you get to tired to fight, then lay down, and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

I know that Robin fought and fought for years. And it sounds like a recent diagnosis just became too much. But I’ve known others fighting depression who use alcohol or other drugs to “self medicate.” Everyone has their own way to cope.

Tonight mine involves a couple of large glasses of wine and a keyboard.

But do all of my ninjas out there, when you need an ear, or a hand. Please know that although my fight goes on, if you need to lay down, I’m happy to help you continue to fight.

That’s what ninjas do.

Feeling Testy

I’m doing it again. Writing a post that I have no intention of hitting “publish” on until I have updated test results.


I’ve been doing this blog thing for two years now, and I considered letting go of my vanity URL, but evidently I’m still vain enough to keep it.  I put it up for a FB “vote” a month or two ago, and people still seem to be interested in my continued writing, but there was one reaction, from my Dad, that I haven’t publically addressed.  (Although I have had this convo with him)

He said, “…it’s time to move on. I’m sure you’ll find a new cause.”

The thing is, although I’m sure I will continue to find causes that I’m passionate about, there is no chance I am now, or possibly ever will be, ready to move on.

My point to him was that I’m still dealing with Tamoxifen & it’s nasty side effects every day… and I will be on some kind of hormone treatment for at least three more years.

Once I AM fully in menopause, I’ll still be years earlier than my friends. I’ve said for a long time that my favorite kind of baby is someone else’s, because you can give them back, but it still makes my heart hurt just a little sometimes knowing I won’t have another kid. We’ve always said we don’t want to screw this one up, but having hit the lottery of awesome children the first time, there’s always the, “what if,” factor. Would another one have been as awesome as this one? We’ll never know.

And then there are the risks that are still out there.

Wednesday morning, I had a pelvic MRI. So if we’re counting, we’ve MRI’d the boobs, the head, and now they’re looking at my ovaries.

Earlier this month, the same week I met with my usual medical oncologist for the northern lady parts, I also met with the gynecological oncologist, Dr. Hipps. (Seriously, that’s her name!)

I’ve seen her a few times, as she’s been helping me deal with the Tamoxifen side effects in my southern lady parts.  Last year she had me do a transvaginal pelvic ultrasound, and this year we did a follow up. This year they noticed something they missed last year, a 1.4 cm hypoechoic lesion on my left ovary. They went back to last year’s imaging, and it was there then as well, and since it’s the same size, shape, etc. as one that was harder to see last year & has no evidence of blood flow, it’s not likely that it’s just part of the normal menstrual cycle.

My doc actually called & told me since it was so stable it likely wasn’t a big deal, but that she wanted an MRI to be safe. I didn’t need to cancel my trip to Washington DC for work, but could schedule it when I got back. So it’s now 20 days since it was seen on the ultrasound, and I wait.

And as I write this post on Wed afternoon, I got a call from the nurse, saying that I may not even hear back until tomorrow… although Dr. Hipps has called me in the evening before, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that even if the result comes in late, I’ll hear today. <NOTE: Heard back in the middle of a meeting on Thursday AM- they are just functional cysts, actually on right AND left ovaries, nothing to worry about! WHEW!>

But this will likely not be my last scare.

Once a cancer survivor, always a survivor. It’s not something from which most people can simply move on.

Today’s line from a song has little to do with the title, but the opening lines of Love Song still fit:

  • Head under water, and you tell me, to breathe easy for a while.
  • Breathing gets harder, even I know that.


The thing is, I’ve found something or had pain & been told “probably not a big deal” twice before. My “sounds like gall stones” turned out to be a ruptured appendix that I walked around with for a week. And everyone here knows how the “probably a cyst” lump I found turned out.

So although I will hope for the best, I will prepare for the worst.

One more thing in case you missed it, Stuart Scott gave one of the best acceptance speeches in the history of ever as he received the Jimmy V award at the ESPY’s a few weeks ago. And one line will likely live on for survivors and their co-surviving loved ones for ever.

  • “When you die, it doesn’t mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner which you live.” – Stuart Scott


So with that as a measure, I’m just going to have to find more and more ways to win.

Cause & Effect

For years, I’ve known. Chocolate makes me sneeze.

Worth it.

Now, a glass of wine causes hot flashes… Or just feels like it raises my body temp 20 degrees.

Also worth it.

Found out I’m even less in menopause than 6 months ago, so the headaches, hot flashes & southern lady part issues will continue.