Cancer Snowflakes

I think I’ve mentioned, I spent the first 11 years of my adult life working in TV news here in Seattle.

In a Seattle TV newsroom, there is not a single 4-letter word more hated than the one they’ve been chatting up the last couple of days.


My last day as an assignment editor was 6 years ago this month. It was a Sunday, since I was on the weekend shift and didn’t want to make someone else start working weekends sooner than necessary since I felt bad enough that I was leaving before Christmas… so on a Sunday morning, with 8 inches of snow on the ground at my house, I drove to work.  In news, that’s what you do. I even had a snow bag in my car- in case there was too much snow at my house (I live at 1000 ft above sea-level, we get more snow than most of Seattle) and I couldn’t make it home and then back to work.

For my first couple of years, I had a picture of the snowman my son made for me, complete with the baseball cap with TV station logo, on that last day of work, just to remind me on lousy days in PR, that at least no one expects me to drive through 8″ of snow on a Sunday.

I find myself needing to remember that now.

I’ve had a few things going on at work that I don’t feel are really worth sharing, and even if I did want to share, I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement that I’d likely violate if I went into too much detail.

Let’s just leave it at, lately my job has been frustrating.

But I have friends, former colleagues, who will have to be up and “chasing snow” at 2am.  And I’m not on the desk tonight, getting calls from kids who would like to extend winter break just ONE MORE DAY, asking if school is closed at their house. Hours  before the snow is scheduled to start… like I’m freaking clairvoyant.

And last year, I was totally bald, and had 960cc, rock hard implants in my chest.

So even when I’m frustrated, I just need to remember that if THOSE days can pass, so can these.

<Transition- stick with me here, I’m going to tie it all back together>

Last night I was talking to my mom, who has just one more round of chemo to go, on Dec 31. She was feeling miserable from her 2nd to last infusion on Tuesday.  She was exhausted, lonely, and all of her bones were aching. I told her I get it. I’ve totally been there.  Literally.

But when I told her that, and that she can’t be hard on herself for taking a day off of work. And she told me she hates to complain to me because I’m going through so much worse.

First off, no. Yes, I had reconstruction, my chemo made me bald, and put me into early menopause, NONE of which I’d recommend to someone for fun.  But my mom hasn’t driven outside of Thurston County in YEARS because of her neuropathy. She still has major issues with both her hands and her feet.  I get how it’s harder to watch your kid be sick (even when said kid will turn 40 in just a few days), I would rather go through my whole ordeal again than to see my son sick.


I have decided to declare 2014 the year of no-cancer-one-upmanship!

I have a very dear friend who I met doing volunteer work when we were in high school. This year she had a brain tumor removed. And yes, I was HUGELY relieved to hear it was benign. But evidently people have said to her things like, “oh, I’m so glad it’s not a big deal, just it was just benign.”


The fact that it was benign doesn’t mean she didn’t need BRAIN SURGERY. Another friend and former colleague, Kathi Goertzen, had the same kind of tumor. She fought it for 14 years, and eventually it took her life.  Benign or no, it’s scary shit.

So, just because I had the “cool” cancer of the boobs instead of Mom’s cancer of the colon, or my friend’s “just benign” tumor of the head, it doesn’t mean that my cancer, or either of their cancers, are any less.

Cancer is truly like a snowflake.

Every single one is a little bit different. Which is why it’s so hard to eradicate, even if, like me, someone can be “cured.” Every person’s body reacts differently to treatment. Every time you get a treatment can even be different.

Just because I’m more open than many people about the road I’ve been on does not mean my journey was harder or easier.

For all of the survivors that I know, it’s more about how you react to the falling snow.

I chose to give thanks for the quality of my shovel, and to keep on plowing along.

One thought on “Cancer Snowflakes

  1. Pingback: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? | The Breast Cancer Ninja

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