Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - One Year Later

Wow! I'm sitting here at work. It's only my second day working full time and I am in a complete and utter panic.
It's October... Breast Cancer Awareness month. That's a good thing, right? I thought so too. I thought this month would be a great month for me. I owe my life to this month, don't I? I truly believe Breast Cancer Awareness is what saved my life. It turns out this month is not having the effect on me that I thought it would. Breast Cancer Awareness is everywhere and it is making me more and more aware of my own cancer. I just want it to go away. I want all the articles that tell me how bad Triple Negative Breast Cancer in young women is and how I'm more likely to die than an older women to go away.
It's crazy how I read one article and it completely sets me off. I've been happy lately. Really happy. Stress free. I've been feeling like I've beat this, it's all behind me... then I read a one page article that has the four keywords I never want to see... young, triple negative, die. I'm mad at myself for letting cancer still have any control over me.
My mom literally just sent me an email that immediately brought me back to reality. It read...
"Life is too short to wake up with regrets... So love the people who treat you right...Forget about the ones who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."
How is it that moms know exactly what to say at the exact time you need to hear it?
I need to remember those words. I was given a second chance. It's now up to me to grab it with both hands. I'm happy. I'm healthy. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I need to get over ittttt....

So, I need to give you a little background on myself for those of you who don't know me well. I am shy. I've always been this way. In high school a friend of mine said (in the most loving way possible) "Margie, everyone thinks you're a bitch because you don't talk to anyone." It wasn't because I was a bitch... far from... I was just shy. Even my uncle said to me "I didn't even know you had a voice until you were 18."  I started joking with my friends and family that I had a social anxiety. Well, that social anxiety came true when I found out I had cancer. I'm a pretty private person and keep most things to myself or to those closest to me, and I didn't want to be around ANYONE unless they were close to me. And when I knew I had to, I would have a full on panic attack. A huge part of the anxiety was I didn't want people to look at me differently, talk to me differently... 

So now to my point. :) Yesterday I was soooo cranky. I couldn't figure out why... but, I couldn't shake it. Then it clicked. I had Vanessa and Brooke's curriculum night at school that I had to go to and of course wanted to go to. I started to have a panic attack. I hate feeling like this more than anything. If you've ever had a panic attack, it's pretty much one of the worst feelings a person can have and it's not something you can control. I had to be around people who didn't know me... and if they do know me, they definitely don't know me well. You'd think I'd be fine since all these people don't know that I just had cancer... that I just had my breasts removed and all my hair fell out. But, I'm constantly wondering if they are looking at me wondering what's wrong with me... why I look like this. Maybe they aren't. But, to me, I know I look different. I'm self conscious. I don't feel pretty. I can't lose a single pound that I gained from the stupid steroids I was on. Everyone says I look great with short hair... but when I look at myself, the short hair is just a reminder of the cancer.

I know I need to get over this anxiety about being around people... especially since I go back to work on Monday. I work with some really, really great people who I am so excited to see... but they haven't seen me since the day I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm afraid that everyone will look at me differently, talk to me differently. I'm afraid I will start crying the first mention of my cancer.  Most importantly, I want to get over this anxiety because I want to be a positive voice for breast cancer. I want young women to know that they too can beat this. I want my daughters to be proud of their mom.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just a reminder on how stupid I think cancer is...

Below are some facts on cancer. I know I've shared most of them with you all in previous blog entries.

Honestly, reading this again tonight is depressing. It's a reminder that my life will never be the same. I have to live the rest of my life worrying about cancer and what I do and don't do to my body. I wish I was a kid again and didn't have a worry in the world. Sigh... Anyway, good information on how this whole cancer thing works.

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal,Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soya milk cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrefied and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest post from my boyfriend Eric

A few months back I was googling different things on cancer... something I tend to do often. This particular time I was searching for information on how men cope when their partner has breast cancer. I came across a woman's breast cancer blog who had her husband and other family and friends write entries from their points of view. It was exactly what I was looking for! It helped me understand what Eric was going through... There was always so much emphasis on how I was feeling and what I was going through... I didn't always know and understand what he was going through. Reading this entry from another man's view helped me understand what this all felt like for Eric. It was like a light bulb went on. :) The next day I talked with him about the entry and asked him if he'd be interested in doing something like that. He said yes he would... but then a lot of time went by and he never brought it up again. Today he posted the below entry. You'll notice he's very good with his words... one of the many things I love about him. I laughed and cried while reading this. I hope that his point of view will be helpful to other people going through this ucky cancer business!

Margie has asked me on a few different occasions if I wanted to write something for her blog. And those of you who read this blog and who know me well, know that I’m usually not one who is shy with my words, more often than not has something to say, and more so, is usually pretty adept at crafting those words in written form. In fact, I’ve always prided myself on that. But I’ve struggled to do so now because I wanted to say something profound or unwittingly wise. I wanted to say something that would make the last year seem a little more bearable. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be any of those things now and the next few paragraphs you’ll read have taken me about eight weeks and three or four re-writes. And who knows if they actually say anything really at all, but frankly, it’s probably the most honest I’ve been in a while so that probably counts for something…

I can still remember the day we sat in the oncologist's office planning out the next few months of our lives and the treatment Margie was about to undergo. I felt helpless. I felt useless. Like no matter how hard I hugged her, no matter how many times I told her I love her, I couldn’t fix it. I fucking hated that the most. I hated the fact that she was scared shitless and that no matter what I said, what I wrote, I couldn’t do anything to steal those words from her ears.
Being a typical male, whenever there was a problem I’ve always been one to say “no worries, we’ll fix it.” I’ve always tried to be one to take away other people’s worries. Sure that works when the dishwasher is broken, or you run out of gas on the side of the freeway. But when the woman you love finds out that she has the most aggressive form of breast cancer, there’s not much to say. And though I’ve said some dumb things in my life (probably more than I can count), even I wasn’t dumb enough to tell her “no worries, we’ll fix it.” But goddamn did I want to. There were times when I tried to cheer her up, when instead I should have just shut up and not said anything at all. There were times when I acted like I was a doctor and run the medical show, when I couldn’t even play an extra on Grey’s Anatomy. Shit, I was clueless. I just wanted to make her feel normal again.

nor•mal [nawr-muh l]
1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual;
2. serving to establish a standard.

The moment I fell for Margie on Mother’s Day weekend four years ago, nothing for me would ever be normal again. The way we met that night, certainly not common. The smiles that she helped me produce when we were together in the weeks thereafter, far from usual. The way she made me feel like there wasn’t anyone else in the room when she was around, in no way conformed to the standard. The hours-long phone conversations we’d have – me in San Francisco, she in Seattle – were undoubtedly not usual. And ever since as I chased her around the schoolyard to get her to like me, our relationship hasn’t been normal. So, after some introspection, I came to the realization that “normal” wasn’t ever a part of our life in the past, so why would I think it would be moving forward? However, the one thing I refuse to do is to talk about things as the "new normal" or "our life after diagnosis." In my opinion, that's letting the cancer win, letting it take over your body AND your mind and I refused to do that.

But regrettably, that never stopped me from asking “Why Margie? Why a mom with two of the best little girls in the world? Why a person who gives more of herself to her friends and family than she'd ever expect in return? Why?” And though I’ve never admitted this to her, there were times I’d just pull over on
the side of the road on the way home from work or the grocery store and just cry uncontrollably. Because though I could never take away her pain, never take away her being scared, I could project an air of calm in a sea of unbelievable madness. I could provide a strong shoulder for her and her girls. But this cancer battle and all the bullshit that goes with it…well…it was hard on me, too. And yes I realize it affected me about 10-percent as hard as it affected her, but it is misery just the same. And though by no means perfect along the way, I’ve tried to be strong and be that infallible person she could count on through all of it. Whether I succeeded, you’ll have to ask her. But I’m proud of my commitment to her and proud that we made it through it still together, as 7 of 10 breast cancer-afflicted relationships don’t.

The last year has been a complete blur - from diagnosis to surgeries to treatment. I'd be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the cancer coming back. But, I always try and remember the following quote I read somewhere, "You can spend all your time worrying about a recurrence. If you never have a recurrence you've wasted all that time worrying, and if you do have a recurrence you've still wasted all that time worrying, when you could have been enjoying life." So, I’m going to make sure that Margie and I and the girls spend every possible moment from here on out enjoying life no matter what.

Through it all, I can say that I’ve never wavered once in my commitment to Margie, to her girls and to giving her and them the life that they so deserve. Though she doesn’t believe in the word, I love her unconditionally. And though this shitty disease has attacked her body, changing it forever, I’ve never once looked at her as the girl with cancer. I’ve always just looked at her as the girl who flashed a ridiculously amazing smile and offered to “share” her lip-gloss with me the one night that forever changed my life. That’s who she was then and that’s who she will always be to me…


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can't afford Lymphedema Sleeves?


If Tomorrow Never Comes

I have randomly come across this poem over the years. It touched me as I read it tonight just as it did the very first time I read it. It's a reminder to me to live and love in the present.

If I knew it would be the last time
that I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute or two
to stop and say "I love you,"
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
well I'm sure you'll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow,
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything right.

There will always be another day,
to say our "I love you's",
And certainly there's another chance ,
to say our "Anything I can do's?"

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you,
and I hope we never forget,

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance,
you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time,
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss,
and you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them,
and that you'll always hold them dear.

Take time to say "I'm sorry," "please forgive me,"
"thank you" or "it's okay".
And if tomorrow never comes,
You'll have no regrets about today.