Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thank you, Cancer!

Yes, you read it correctly. I am, in some ways, thankful to have received this diagnosis. All of that predicates on the fact that I am heavily counting on it never returning (or at least not for a very long time). If I have a recurrence (which could happen) then I reserve the right to delete this post and revise it to be "FU Cancer" with lots of reasons why it is evil.

For now, let's be positive, shall we?

Not necessarily in priority, or who I care more about order. So, let's keep it a no judge zone!

1. I have amazing skin. Soft as a baby's bottom, blemish free, sparkly like I'm pregnant - glowing skin. Thank you chemo. I am wearing make-up, fussing over myself and enjoying trips to Ulta to buy the latest shadow, gloss etc. It's fun being a girl!

2. No daily shaving. Again, thanks chemo (hmmm... few more of these and I may have to change the title of the post to that). Yup, it's awesome! Smooth legs, arms, and pits. I love that, especially in summer.

3. Amazing nails (thanks chemo??) like seriously strong, fast growing, salon worthy nails. This one is interesting because before diagnosis, my nails were actually kind of disturbingly thin, ridged and chipping. Maybe my body was trying to tell me something?

4. Weight loss (um, okay, chemo). I am not trying to lose. I promise. I eat healthy and some days eat less because it tastes icky. But, I also am working with my trainer, Julie, and walking 15-20 miles per week. I know, hands down, that this is going to be a huge part of trying to keep recurrence at bay. I now have made a solid commitment to myself and my family that I will continue to maintain weight and exercise. No more yo-yo diet / weight gain for me. This is important and I need to have resolve.

5. I've met amazing women along the way. Some who have taught me so much about how to be a cancer patient and not let it become my life. Others who, with quiet and dogged determination, are in their second or third recurrence and still putting one foot in front of the other. And some who I've been able to mentor and share with. That feels really good. I also value my new friendships and wouldn't have them had it not been for cancer.

6. I've learned that despite having been healthy my whole life, shit happens and it's going to be okay. This one is huge for me. And, I've learned that I'm not chicken shit when it comes to medical procedures, medicine, and having to face the unknown. I've found my inner bad ass and I like her!

7. I've been blessed with amazing care at Dana Farber / Brigham and Women's combined with access to cutting edge, kick ass, expensive chemo and targeted therapies. A top notch infusion nurse has made all the difference, combined with an amazingly smart oncologist, and a brilliant surgeon who soon will practice her magic on my right breast and lymph nodes. I'm lucky to live where I do and to have health insurance that has paid for my care, leaving my family with little to no worries about finances.

8. I drink water now. Lots of water. I never kept myself hydrated before. So silly when I think back. Why didn't I take better care in that department?

9. I have a stylish new wardrobe (see number 4). Sure, it's cost us a bit, but I feel so much better about myself because I am no longer trying to hide my assets. It's been fun picking out new outfits and shoes and so on.

10. No hair actually rocks. I look good with a buzz cut (those few strands I'm managing to hold on to), and I've been fortunate to have been able to buy a beautiful human hair wig. I actually, surprisingly, prefer to go commando / topless. It's so liberating!!

11. My family always was my priority, but now I am more deeply connected. I let small stuff go (cliche I know, but true). And, I think they appreciate me more now too. We've deepened our commitment and love for each other.

12. Friends old and new who've been there each and every day. Food, companionship. No request refused. You are all so wonderful and dependable. I couldn't do it without you!!

13. I'm not saying no anymore. I am really trying to live an authentic life that will be full and passionate no matter how long I get to continue to have it. I want to be sure that it counts and that I have no regrets.

In twelve short weeks I've become the best me that I can be. Seriously the most self-actualized adult who is happy, stress-free (for the most part and it did take time), and thankful for everything, every day. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Look Good Feel Better

Such simple words that are so important when going through cancer treatment. It is such a challenging time keeping up with treatment schedules, managing side effects, and trying to live your normal life as much as possible.

About a month ago, I signed up for a Look Good Feel Better class sponsored by the American Cancer Society that is free of charge for women who are in treatment. It's an amazing experience that comes with a lovely (giant) bag full of cosmetic goodies! The woman who showed us make-up tips was lovely inside and out. She had great tips that I'll share below. Another person who was helpful was the gentleman who showed us wigs and hair covers  and explained how to tie scarves in some cute ways.

It was also nice to meet some other women going through similar challenges. Even though I was the young one in the room, that was quickly forgotten as we bonded during the class.

Tip time:

1. Did you know that the "skin" around your eye area is actually tissue? That's why special eye cream is needed to keep it youthful. Regular moisturizer is too thick/oily for that area. Make sure to gently massage the area under your eye in wavy motions to the outer edge. It will remove the puffiness and send it through your lymph system.

2. Stipple on your foundation. I found out I had been using the "wax on / wax off" method - HAHA! and that's why I would get lines.

3. Using contour and illuminating powders can make your face pop! (In a good way :)

4. Don't be afraid to use brighter lipsticks. They can really brighten up a chemo face that needs it.

5. Brow pencils need to be used in short motions to create the illusion of small hairs.

This class is fun and totally worth your time just for the cosmetics alone. I received brands such as Chanel, Lancome, Kiels, Avon, Estee Lauder and many more. I'm so grateful to those wonderful companies and the volunteers. It was such a wonderful experience!