One Million, Fifty-one Thousand, Two Hundred Minutes

How do you measure, measure two years?

Much like the life of my little dude who turned 11 yesterday, it both feels like forever and moments ago that I found Lefty’s lump. But it’s neither. It was two years ago this week.

I’ve started this post at least 5 times in the last two months. This is somewhat good for you, as it means that I will give you the straight up elevator pitch on most of the posts I’ve started, and you get to read like, two months worth of thoughts in one post.

One is the loneliest number: This one was Mother’s Day. The sidekick & I never planned to have more than one. But as I watch so many of my friends having kids, high school & college friends, so they are just as elderly as I am… it’s hard to know that I absolutely can not.

What the Hell: The Avril Lavigne song that was stuck in my head.  All my life I’ve been good, but now, I’m thinking what the hell.

What Doesn’t Kill You: I’m not a huge Komen fan (too political, not enough $$ for research), but did my 1st “Race for the Cure,” and it was pretty cool. Also walked the Seattle Rock & Roll 1/2 marathon.  Took me longer than my 2nd 13.1, but not as long as my first. I was not that impressed with the music… I’d rather carry it myself. But support along the way was awesome. And it was my first real endurance event as a survivor.  Which just means that I can do anything I could do before the big C. Which still feels like a worthwhile lesson.

Momma Said Knock You Out: Signed up for a groupon for kickboxing. LOVE it. I end up sore, but in the best way. Remembering muscles that I’d long forgotten… And the pecs that have implants under them don’t hurt that much more than all of the other muscles.  Got pink gloves & shoes from my boys for Mother’s Day. They are awesome.

Pooper Scooper: I’ve been joking that I need to go out and pick up dog poop because I’m finding it really hard to give a shit about things. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing something more with my 2nd chance. But I’m at a loss as to what I should do. So I’m just going to keep on keeping on.

The other thing that happened yesterday was my quarterly visit with my oncologist. Good news is that he feels like I’m doing well enough to only see him twice a year. Bad news is that I got a call today and the blood test I took yesterday says I’m not yet in menopause, so I have to keep taking Tamoxifen. I know I’m “tolerating it alright” but I was hoping for less hot flashes and less headaches.  Sigh.

It’s amazing how much has happened in the last two years. And in so many ways, I still get down on myself. I haven’t lost the weight I wanted to lose. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut at work. I’m not nearly the mom, and especially wife, that I think I should be.

But no matter what I have or have not done in the last two years, I am an continue to be a work in progress.  The likelihood of being perfect in the next two years. Pretty much nil.

But if you measure a year in smiles, or in hugs, or just love, it makes sense that the last two years feel like they have been longer than the 38 that came before them. Because I’ve had an embarrassment of riches in those terms.

Despite the limbo I still feel like I’m in now, I’m continuing on looking forward to the next 48 years.


Work B*tch

A couple of weeks ago, the best thing that could ever happen to my son happened.

He lost.

Before you call the crappy mom police, let me clarify a little.

The kid does know about losing.  He played pee-wee football for 3 years, without one single winning season.  He may have seen the Red Sox win more series than his grandmother (S-3, G-0) but he’s had his heart broken by the Pats in the Superbowl. Twice.

Even academically, his team didn’t do nearly as well as they should have in the Battle of the Books, because they refused to read a couple of the books.  It’s hard to answer questions when you haven’t done the work.

This was a competition called You Be The Chemist, for 5th-8th graders. We know for sure that he was not the youngest kid there, because his best friend is a week younger than he… but at 10, they are young 5th graders.  But for the last few months, that best friend’s mom took a group of 5 5th graders, and taught them basic chemistry. One of those kids was a really sweet kid who I know worked hard at reading and I have a feeling put a lot more time into it than S. He did the reading, and showed up for the “group instruction” with his friends, but I’m pretty sure the other kid actually STUDIED.  My kid was the only one from his group to advance from the 100 or so kids to take the written “local” round, and into the electronic “state” round of 30 kids.  {{Pause for maternal pride in my smart kid}}

The next cut was from 30 to 16. And that’s where he was eliminated. But he actually handled it SO well. I think I may have been just as proud in that moment as I was when he advanced.

All of the other SES parents told me that “My kid always talks about how smart S is! I’m sure he’ll do great!”  And although I was polite, smiled, said, “Thank you!” But what I WANTED to say was, “Yes, he is smart. But can you ask your children to stop telling him that?”

I am proud of his brains, but much like my years of being “smart,” I don’t think that’s the best compliment. We do nothing to earn our ability to learn. I would rather hear that he is a hard worker, which is hard when so much comes easily.

For me, and I believe for him, things are so much more rewarding when they are earned, not simply given.

And this weekend I heard from another parent whose son has only met mine a couple of times. “S is the nicest boy I’ve ever met!”

There’s a compliment that a mom can be proud of!

The Scarlet Letter

I had to go back and see exactly how long it’s been, and I’m now at 14 months and counting since I took my mom to a doctor’s appointment and the resident obviously mistook me for a 62 year old, because I was the one who looked like a cancer patient. (Yes, this still smarts, likely wrapped up with the part where I just turned 40) It’s funny, because at the time, I was starting to forget that I looked like I’d had chemo, because it had been long enough since my last session that I felt like I was past it.

Now, however, I seem to have the opposite problem.  I keep forgetting that with my normal looking (unless you know that I never had curls) hair, and boobs, that not everyone looks at me and thinks, “Oh, she’s a breast cancer survivor.” In general this is a good thing, but in the last month or so, I find myself inadvertently dropping the “C-bomb” on people.

I use phrases like, “when I was bald” or “with my new boobs” or even, “when I was going through chemo.”  I mentioned that I enjoy writing and I’ve found that a focused message leads to better engagement… “Oh, what’s your blog.” Me: “I’m at”

Wheeew, ka-pow.  (Imagine a whistle & explosion noise… as a boy mom, I make the sounds better than I write them)

I don’t mean to drop bombs, I really don’t. But I just see this as a matter of fact for me.  And my oversharing tendencies may exacerbate this.  I’m an open book.  So when I feel like you can tell things by looking at me, like the fact that I’m 40, been married forever, mom of a genius, struggle with my weight, super slow triathlete, breast cancer survivor. It’s all tattooed on my forehead, right? Because if you don’t find out by me opening my mouth, it’s not because I’m not willing to share, it’s that I don’t think you give a flying rip.

On the FLIP side (or is it the flip-flip side since I was talking about the opposite problem before?) those people who DO know, still seem much more worried about me than I think they should be.  I’ve been having more problems with an upper respiratory thing that I’ve been fighting for the last 3 weeks than I have with any other health issues lately.  When I saw my doc over the kid’s spring break, we couldn’t even think of any good questions for him.  He explained what’s going on with the menopause (I’m literally on the line, so I’ll likely go back off of Tamoxifen when he checks my blood again in 3 months) and otherwise, there’s just not much to say.

Although I will always have to be careful in the future, it’s not totally wrong for me to talk about cancer in the past tense. And it’s a pretty good bet that I’m going to keep talking about it, whether it feels like I’m dropping bombs or not.

One last cool thing to share, my awesome friend Kristin shared this with me last week, and since touching myself likely saved my life, I’m totally behind #ITouchMyselfProject.  Like the Bright Pink Lipstick day, it’s Australian in origin, but so easy to get behind here in the US, and all over the world.  Do click the link. It’s really pretty awesome.

Tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em right now

This post will be more about pontificating & ordering you around than it is about cancer, so if you just want the icky details on my boobs, you can skip this one. 🙂

There’s a chance it’s just me, but I think there’s a special bond between assignment editors and their photojournalists in a TV news room.  As a deskie, you have to make a lot of phone calls to them that they don’t love. Changing their story when it’s 1/2 shot. Telling them they’re live two hours from home until 7pm. Waking them up in the middle of the night for breaking news.

But without a photog, the desk has nothing. When trying to explain my former profession, I’ve heard people call the desk like “the brain,” in a newsroom. It’s the first place information comes, gets processed, and sent elsewhere. But without the eyes (and camera) of the photog on the scene, all they have is 3rd party information.

People who WATCH television news have a much more special relationship with those same photojournalists than most of them realize.  These are the men and women who rush towards the breaking news, right behind police & fire crews, armed only with a camera. We laugh about getting sent to chase snow, but they are out on roads that you are told not to drive on, showing you why you shouldn’t be out there.  This week, they are at the site of a horrific landslide as an entire small town waits for news of the survivors.

But they also show you the beauty of the world. And hold the hand of a mother who has lost her child so she can tell her story and share her tears. They are in the courtroom when the drunk driver is convicted.  They are at the dock when a Navy ship comes home after months at sea.

EVERYTHING that you see when you are watching the news, if it’s not from the studio, some talented professional was physically there. Good, bad, happy, sad, whatever you’re seeing you are seeing through their eyes.

I spent 11 years on the assignment desk. I worked with a whole range of photographers. And I think any of them would say (and have said in the last few days) Bill Strothman was one of the best.

But as I’ve watched the out pouring of love for Bill and his family, and Gary, the pilot whom I think we all believe spent the last seconds of his life trying to get Air 4 to the grass in front of the Space Needle, and not the rush hour street, one thing struck me.

Unfortunately, the KOMO family is much too familiar with the loss of a beloved colleague. But when we lost Tricia & Kathi, we knew it was coming. And we had a chance to tell them how we felt about them.  I will never doubt they knew they were loved.

But with the shocking suddenness of a helicopter crash, we don’t have that chance. I’m sure we all thought that Bill knew how amazing people thought he was, but how much of that is true, and how much is just an assumption on our part?

So here comes the lecture, and a little putting my, er, writing?, where my mouth is.

None of us, not one single person, is really assured of anything in this life. So I honestly believe that it’s ALWAYS worth taking the time to tell someone that they are loved. What you admire about them. How glad you are to have them in your life.

I finally did something I’ve been joking about- starting my own meet up, just with people I like. I had brunch with three ladies I hadn’t seen in at least a year, one of them several.

I’m thinking I’ll take this to FB in a couple of weeks to see if I can get other people to pitch in, but since I have my little forum here, I’m also going to see if I can get people to tell each other how much we love and admire them now.

And I can think of no better place to start than with a couple of the amazingly talented photojournalists of the KOMO 4 Newsroom.

So without further ado, let me tell you about some of the people who Bill worked with in his nearly 30 years at KOMO.

The most obvious, is his son, Dan.  It’s funny, I didn’t know Dan as well as some of the other guys, and I almost feel like I’ve gotten to know him better through FB in the 6 years I’ve been gone. He’s got a quick wit, his father’s infectious smile, and love of storytelling. My mom called after she’d seen the interview you did about your dad only hours after the crash, and said she was so impressed with your poise. I only wanted to argue with one of your points. You were so matter of fact as you said you could never be as good as Bill. I think Bill would agree, you can be.

Dan’s long-time friend who shot the interview, and came to KOMO at the same time, Eric. For some reason, largely involving the luck of the draw and schedules, I knew Eric better when I was at KOMO. Always with a quick smile and a kind word, even when I had to make some of those crappy calls, Eric has been posting raw video and nat sound stories to YouTube for years, before new management was pushing social media so hard. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how much I appreciate that. I’ve always thought that natpacks are some of the best storytelling. Letting people see what’s happening for themselves takes a special talent.

Doug, another genuinely NICE person. It’s easy to become grumpy and bitter when you spend so long in news, and although I think I’ve seen you mad, I can’t even imagine you ever being mean.  Such a talented photographer, reporters would come out of the morning story meeting and make a b-line for me at the assignment desk, “I’m doing X, and I need to work with Doug today.” Not just because you are great to work with, but you make the reporters you work with better.

Katie, my dear friend. You have more talent in your ponytail than some newsrooms have in their entire photography staff. I miss chatting with you on weekends and seeing your sunny smile. My heart hurts, knowing that you had to cover such a horrific scene last week, but I am so proud of you that you were able remain professional and I know you made Gary & Bill proud.

There are so many more, but I wanted to at least start before I completely over think this and let it take another week.

I’m just so amazingly lucky.

I’ve got so many amazing talented friends. And in knowing that I’m loved.

So now it’s YOUR turn!

Tell him that you’re never gonna leave him
Tell him that you’re always gonna love him
Tell him, tell him, tell him, tell him right now


Funhouse Mirrors

This is at least the 6th time I’ve started to write in the last month.  Most of the time I’ve gotten as far as the punny title of what’s rolling around in my head.  Sometimes I’ve had a whole line, but in general, there just hasn’t been much to share, or at least that I think anyone wants to talk about.  Here’s a smattering of what I would have written, if I had taken the time, over the last few weeks.

Invested- So one of those totally random things that no one mentions, but that makes sense.  Silicone implants don’t retain heat the way actual boobs do. So I have a new favorite jacket- a hot pink fleece vest.  It keeps the boobs warmer, but still allows me to regulate my over heating moments.

Siezed up- This was a week where I was tired of carpe-ing every damn diem. I just wanted to let someone else go seize the day for a while. I’m over it, but for a while, I was over trying so hard to live out loud.

Flow? No, Pause! So this is likely the biggest piece of news.  Back in December I went off of Tamoxifen, and started taking Arimidex. We were trying to help me with the headaches & hot flashes. And it totally did.  Less headaches, less hot flashes. The other thing that I knew going in to the switch, aromatase inhibitors can not block estrogen created by the ovaries.  We did a blood test to see if I was in menopause, and thought that I was. Nope.
So then I had a REALLY bad period. No need to go into details, just know, it was horrible. And did another blood test. I was out of menopause. So now I’m back on Tamoxifen. And just in the last couple of weeks, have been having headaches again. Along with the hot flashes.

All the, Small Things– This one is particularly ironic today. I was writing about how great the sidekick (aka my husband of 17 years) is, and how he may not always do big flashy things for me, but he does the little things that mean so much in a long term relationship. Lets me sleep in one morning. Takes care of our taxes. Doesn’t play a video game that he knows distracts me when I’m working from home.  The last couple of weeks I’ve been referring to myself as “the bad cop” at work.  Not a favorite role of mine, but one I’m capable of when needed. So he ordered the mini-figure from the Lego Movie, “Bad Cop.” And on a day when I joked that I should just start drinking at 8:45a, my day was completely made.

But this weekend we went to Olympia, to help my mom clean out my old room. I’d say only 10% of what was in there was mine anymore, which makes sense, since I hadn’t slept there since 1996, but I brought home a big box of pictures & letters from my mom & friends when I used to spend 6 weeks in the summer with my dad in Alaska. I’m kind of looking forward to looking through it, but it was another reminder of the most recent blog I’d started in my head.

Sometimes I feel like I’m looking in a funhouse mirror.  My chest is almost as big as it was before, but it’s almost like I’m always wearing a minimizer. They’re not shaped like they were for the first 38 years for my life. It had been years since I could see my tummy, or my feet for that matter. That is no longer the case.

Growing up, I always thought I was fat. I wore hugely loose clothes whenever I could. But in those pictures I found this weekend, there was a healthy looking kid.  Was I as thin as some of my friends? No, but I also never felt the need to stuff my bra.

We all have body issues. I did before my boobs tried to kill me. But even when I’m having a tough day, and I don’t really feel like seizing anything, I can remember one small thing.

I am loved, no matter what mirror I’m using. And that is no small thing.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It’s ironic.  It’s been less than a month since I declared 2014 the no-cancer-one-upmanship, and already the Guardian and the NYT have broken my pact.

Don’t they know they should all be listening to the Ninja?!? 🙂

This week some people, questioned the choice of Lisa Adams, a mother of three who has been fighting stage 4, metastatic breast cancer for more than six years.  She started to write, much like I did, almost privately.  As her disease has progressed, she has shared more, about her treatment, about the loss of her mother-in-law, about the congenital issues of her son.  Her writing evolved into a blog, and a hugely popular twitter handle.

The tweet she sends out each and every morning speaks to me on so many levels:

Lisa Bonchek Adams @AdamsLisa  Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.

I do not know Lisa, I have not previously been following Lisa, but I know those feelings. I understand wanting to educate, or share, not only to purge the darkness as we go through it, but with the fervent wish that my pain, my journey, can help someone, anyone, else.
So this family of writers have published the above articles, the most egregious (from the Guardian) has now been pulled down, and I’m not even going to dignify their authors with using their names.  And there are many, many offensive things here, but the one that gets me the most is where the author says that since she “live tweets” her disease, she has lost her right to decide what to share.  “And she is trying to create her own boundaries, flimsy as they might be. She’ll tell you all about her pain, for example, but precious little about her children or husband and what they are going through… She was enraged a few days ago when a couple of people turned up to visit her unannounced. She’s living out loud online, but she wants her privacy in real life.”
Are you fucking kidding me?  Perhaps it’s because I have these own lines in my own head, but this is like saying that there’s no such thing as rape between people who have already had sex.  Yes to one thing always means yes, right?
On Facebook, they did a little thing that showed you what 2013 was like for you.  And I was a little embarrassed at how many selfies there are.  I HATE pictures of myself. But for the last year, I’ve been showing off the hair as it comes in on top of my head.
Jan 10, 2013

Jan 10, 2013

One year later, actual hair

One year later, actual hair, flat iron needed

However, I have NOT been showing you my new nipples.  I have taken pictures of some scars, but they are not for anyone… even really me.  I just thought I might want them.  I do not think that showing you my head gives you the right to see my boobs, no matter how much I may talk about them.  I talk a little about how my husband and son (and dog) have handled the last year, but I DO NOT talk about my sex life. Because then I’d be talking about my husband’s sex life.  And he would HATE that.
I am at a point where I get to live my life again as if there were no cancer.  Yeah, I’m figuring out how to make my hair look normal, but I just signed up to do the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half.  Which is the kind of thing I did before cancer. This time I just have more of an appreciation of being able to make my body go 13.1.
There is a ton of backlash to these articles, and even better, a people have been donating to Memorial Sloan-Kettering where Lisa Adams is being treated.
And obviously, my comments play in to that. But as I said last month, each and every person who has cancer reacts to it differently. Emotionally, physically, spiritually.  That deserves to be respected. And yes, I would like us to all get along.
I try REALLY HARD not to be judgey- except to those who are judgmental.
Those “journalists” who I refuse to name… hope they have insurance for their glass house… since I think it’s safe to say they are experiencing a hailstorm of their own initiation.

The Back Forty

I’m drunk.

And right now I’m so in love with you. And I don’t want to think too much about what we should and shouldn’t do.

Okay Ninjas, I think this is my second drunk post.

I feel like I should feel guilty, but I’ve decided not to.

For more time than I’d like to admit, I’ve been freaking out about what 12-28-13 signifies.

The big 4-0.

And when I REALLY think about it, I KNOW that I should be thankful. My good friend Tricia Moen, didn’t even get to 40. Colon cancer got there first.

And when I realize how many of my friends who are having babies now for the very first time, I have to be thankful that I’d already given birth to the only child I was planning to have BEFORE I found the lump in Lefty and menopause set in. Sully even picked out pink, dangly, Kate Spade earrings for me for my birthday this year.  Does my son know me or what?

But the fact is, for weeks, it has felt like there’s something missing.

Like there is SOMETHING in my cosmic checklist that I was supposed to have done before 40.

Career of my dreams in news? Check.

Then career that lets me be a mom? Double check.

Marry the love of my life? Check.

Give birth to the most amazing child ever? Check again.

Have super-awesome-amazing friends? Super check.

Kick some cancer ass. BIG OL’ FREAKING CHECK.

So I haven’t figured out what it is that I was that I haven’t done yet.

And as The Bloggess (who is evidently exactly one day younger than me) says: “40 is the new I-don’t-really-give-a-shit-about-how-old-I-am-because-I’m-finally-learning-how-to-be-a-bad-ass-so-get-out-of-my-way-or-I-will-shank-you-thank-you-very-much.”

So a) thank you to all of my super-awesome-amazing friends. And b) I’m finally learning to be a BAD ASS. So when I figure out WTF it is that I haven’t checked off yet, watch out.

You have been warned.

And thank you for coming along for the ride!

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.

Not All In My Head

The best news I got Monday is that I don’t have a brain tumor.

There was significantly more news, but that’s been a cloud looming over my head for longer than I’d care to admit.

So I’ll back up a second- Monday I took the full day off work.  I started with an Echocardiogram and a visit to my cardiologist, who I hadn’t seen in 3 years. I was due last year, but as I told him, I think the Echo would have hurt like hell with the tissue expanders in.  I have a bicuspid aortic valve, it’s a congenital heart condition, and as long as there’s no change in how it’s leaking or the way my body has compensated by creating a minor aortic aneurism just past the valve, it’s really not that big of a deal. Not to mention, I was a little distracted by the whole chemo thing.

I chose to schedule it for Monday, because it was tattoo day. No, not some cool tattoo to commemorate my journey… but circles on my chest that make the gummy bear filled flesh lumps that fill my bra actually look like boobs. (See a cool article about both kinds here.)  It’s amazing what a difference it makes. It’s funny, I told the PA who did the work that the color she mixed (a combo of Flesh 4, Mauve and Mocha) was similar to a lipstick I have… and now that I confirmed that it’s a lipstick I still own, I remembered it’s one I only wear when I’m particularly ashen. Otherwise it doesn’t look like I’m wearing anything, it matches my lips so closely.

If you’ll remember, the last time I saw my doc in September, he asked me to tell him if the headaches didn’t get better.  And since I’d already scheduled both an Echo and the Tattoos, I also booked my quarterly visit with Dr. Gadi.  And called his nurse to see if he still wanted to do a scan before the visit.  So Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving, I had a brain MRI with contrast. And for 7 days, I had to wait.

On one hand, since I’ve been having darn close to daily headaches which have been more intense than ever for the last 6-8 months, just knowing what might be causing the problem would be a relief. But REALLY? A heart murmur, breast cancer, my mom’s colon cancer. I’m just not ready for one more thing.

So yes, it was more than a small relief to learn that I still don’t have a tumor.

However, I do still have the headaches.

Our going theory right now is that the increased headaches are either because I’m entering menopause, a side effect of the Tamoxifen, or a combo of both.  Or, again, as I pointed out to my doc, since I’ve been having stress headaches for more than 15 years, it could just be that.

That’s actually why it’s taken so long to write about Monday. I’ve had enough of a headache every day this week that by the time I get done with work hours, I just can’t stand to stare at my PC and type something out that involves any thought.

So the next course of action is to switch me off of Tamoxifen and on to an aromatase inhibitor.  My doc says the survival rate is actually better on them, but they are only OK to be on post-menopause.  Evidently, some women still get periods on Tamoxifen, so I needed to do the full year to confirm that I’m there. I’m there.

Starting in the morning, I’ll be taking Arimidex.  I don’t know much about it… I’m still in that weird limbo-y place where I’m doing a lot less research than I’d ever expect of myself, but I’m really hoping this will help with the headaches.

The last new thing my doc & I talked about was my continued problems with sleep.  I don’t know that I’ve had more than a handful of full nights of sleep since I found the lump. That can’t help things like headaches.

So he gave me info from a study on how yoga can help cancer survivors with sleep issues.  Once I find the right class and give it a try, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’ll hope that switching up my meds will help me get out of my head.


I’ve been in a funk for a couple of weeks, and it occurred to me today that maybe I need to spew it out here.

There are so many things I’ve had to say, but then I get tired of looking at a computer, and don’t. But the biggest thing I’ve got going on is an identity crisis.

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged my buns into Seattle on a Friday night to see a bunch of my old TV friends, and it was pretty great. But there was one silly thing that keeps bugging me.  One of my old photogs, someone I worked with on a nearly daily basis for seven years, didn’t ever say hi, although there weren’t very many people when I got there. There’s no way I’ve done something to make him angry… and he’s one of those really nice people who you just don’t ever expect to snub you.

Pair that with a conversation I had a couple of months ago where I was sitting next to someone who works in a different office (but I spent a couple of days with her in person when she started at the agency a couple of years ago, and was on her team for longer than that).  The conversation went like this:

Her: Hi, I’m <her name>

Me: Yeah you are!  I’m Ange. We worked together on XX. (No, I wasn’t TRYING to be a snot, it was just one of those moments where the words just start to come out of your mouth before you realize how they sound…)

So it occurs to me that maybe the simple change of my hair is really enough that people don’t recognize me?  Yes, I’ve changed my makeup a bit, and I wear more dangly earrings, but yeah. Same clothes. Same dimply smile. In general, same body.

But my identity crisis doesn’t quite stop there.

I’ve been using the pic of me in my special ninja hat as a profile pic for a year now. But I’m not that bald chick anymore.

I’ve thought about putting back up my favorite pic of me with my kid, laughing. But I’m not her anymore either.

So I’m stuck in this limbo, where there are days I look in the mirror, and I don’t identify that face as me.

The other identity question I’ve been asking myself lately… will breast cancer define who I am for the rest of my life?  After all, I don’t have cancer today.  And that’s the plan for all of my tomorrows.

Since my real boobs were so much a part of my identity before, I can’t imagine my faux ones won’t be a big part of my identity in the future.  And cancer is how I learned that I am a ninja. Not only can I do this, I have done this.

But the part I have to remember is that my boobs never were ALL of who I was, so they are not all of who I am now.

I can never again be who I was a year, or even five years ago.

I will continue to move onward.

Self-Rescuing Princess, Oct 2013