Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Anniversary To Me!

It's funny how a certain day out of the year can have special meaning to you, but just be another Monday... or Tuesday... or whatever, to anyone else.

There are a handful of dates that I often find myself measuring time by. They are anniversaries of events in my life that were impactful enough, that nothing could ever be the same after them. Some happy.  Some sad. Some tragic. 

March 25th, 2008 marks one of those dates for me.  Five years ago today I had surgery that removed colon cancer from my body. I don't think of it as a sad day... I wouldn't say I  consider it a happy day either (although I should, since it saved my life). It will be a day that I will never forget. 

Once upon a time, I wrote these words;

I look forward to the day when all this chemotherapy business is behind me and everyone thinks I'm my oldself. Really, I do. But the truth is, will I ever be my old self again? I find it hard to believe that I will. Even when I can have Ice Cream and Iced Tea and Cold Soda again. Even when I have the regular feeling back in my fingers and toes. And even when my skin recovers from having tape covering it for six months. How can I be the same?
I hope for all the differences in me, that the good will by far outweigh the bad. That this might make me physically weaker now, but that it will make me forever stronger.

It's funny how I said I was looking forward to the day when everyone thinks I'm my old self.  And here were are. And here they do. I guess there is a part of me that wants this day to be as special to someone else as it is to me, but really, it's just another day.  So that's okay too, because I wouldn't want it to be one of those sad or tragic markers in anyone else's timeline.

For the record, nothing will ever be the same. But this I know, is good. I am stronger for the experience. 

And for five years, I have been looking forward to to celebrating today. So I think I will....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A different kind of grief...

Holy cow! I can't believe it's been over a year since I've blogged. Here at least...

I'm still around, in case you were wondering. I've received some comments and emails asking if I was and thought it was awful nice of you to care enough to ask, so the least I could do is respond.

Early last year, January 1st to be exact, stuff happened. My mom suffered a really bad stroke that left her unable to speak and move very well. On top of that, an x-ray done in the ER revealed a large mass in her lung - Stage IV lung cancer.

My mom was in the hospital for two months, just trying to get her well enough to get to a rehabilitation center. Halfway through, we were hopeful as she had started to walk with the aid of a walker and assisted by medical staff.

Hospitals are funny places. Not funny as in "ha-ha" you made me laugh. Not funny like that at all. Funny in the way that you are in great danger the sicker you are and the longer you stay in one. "Super Bugs", resistant to antibiotics and other treatments, are life threatening to patients with weakened immune systems. My mom was one of these patients. While in the hospital she contracted at least two separate cases of pneumonia. The stroke had severely impacted her ability to speak... and also to swallow. When you added in the obstruction from the tumor in her lungs, it was a bleak scenario. She just couldn't cough out the bad stuff and never recovered.

Cancer. Hit me harder than it ever had before. I lost my mom on February 26th, 2011 - just two days before what would have been her 41st anniversary with my dad.

For anyone who knows me, you know I stayed very positive through my diagnosis, my treatment and through my check-ups and remission. Sure, I get anxious for test results and maybe I am more nervous than I was before - but I'm not sad, angry or physically down about my own bout with cancer. For those of you who don't know me, you might have commented that you gather that from reading my blog.

I've had some fucked up things happen in my life. Three of my nieces, ages 7, 8 & 10 were murdered in 1999. I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Colon Cancer at age 36 in 2008. I lost my house due to Cancer and all the fun parts of dealing with a medical condition like this in 2009. But I always knew that these kind of things didn't just happen to me. Everyone suffers. Everyone has dealt with their own tragedies, or if not, they probably will at some time. And if they don't ever, then Praise God! I'd never wish harm on anyone. My point is, somehow I managed to keep that positive attitude to all of my own... until mom.

It was a whole different kind of grief and eventually loss and more grief. I tried to do everything I could do to be there for her and help make decisions for her care, but in the end, we still lost her. No positive outcome. No more hope. I was angry. I was sad. I was lost.

It's been just over a year since my mom had her stroke. I honestly don't feel as angry and hopeless as I did back then. I'm still grieving and I miss her, but I'm able to look for some positive through it now; The best thing - we got to say goodbye. I don't know why my mom started to get better for the one month before it got so bad, but she did. And even though she couldn't speak to us, she communicated. She told me that she loved me in her own way and I'll always have that as one of the last feelings to have shared with her. And if I allow myself to look, I often find bits and pieces of other good too. Like the way mom always taught us that life goes on. We cannot stop living due to our grief. And how better to honor that lesson than to not only go on living, but live life to the fullest and appreciate that we still have time her with our loved ones.

So where does this all come from? Besides being what my life has been about for the last year? Well, for one - I was blogging, just not here. I found this blog to be so great for documenting not only what I was going through at the time but also a great way of communication for anyone who cared to know what I was going through, that I ended up creating a separate blog for my mom. Although, I haven't posted on that since her funeral last March. For two - It's another instance of how cancer is affecting my life and of how fucked up it can be. And how I said at one point "I reserve the right to breakdown in the future..." I brokedown. Just not exactly how I expected it to come about. Three - if you smoke - QUIT! That shit is nasty and it KILLS! I can't believe my mom hadn't had a chest x-ray sooner. I can't believe I never urged her too. It's too late for her, but if you know someone who smokes, maybe you can at least encourage them to ask their doctor's for one. It could very possibly save their life.

That said... I am fine, healthwise in relation to cancer. I missed my 3 1/2 year check up so had a 3 3/4 year CT scan on November 13th. Results were good. NED. No evidence of disease.

Sorry for being away so long. I guess just 'cause I'm super pissed at cancer, it doesn't mean I need to take it out on my blog...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Good news!

After I got my CT in March - 7 1/2 months ago, I never went in for a follow-up. I guess I figured they would call me if anything was wrong. I told a friend that and they gave me a lecture saying "Not so!".

Okay. Okay! When I scheduled this CT, I asked for March's results just in case there was a surprise in store for me and they gave them to me (they were good btw).

Today, I called in and asked when I would receive my results from last week's scan. She said, "when you have your follow-up."

Really? You can't hold my results hostage - can you? I mean, I paid for the scan... or I will. (And that is pretty much what I told her).

I got a call about an hour later. She said, "Dr. Cohn wanted to let you know that the results of your scan are good, but he still wants you to come in so he can discuss them with you."

Nice. I'll take that.

And I did schedule a follow-up appointment too...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Halfway there CT Scan! And Happy Thanksgiving!

So today I went in for my six month (albeit a month and a half late) check up via CT Scan. The flavor of my barrium "smoothie" was banana. Such a lie. It is soooo not a smoothie. It's like drinking liquid chalk. Banana flavored liquid chalk. Yumm. Sorry, I'm getting off on a tangent.

I'm not sure when I'll get the results back, but I am praying they are unremarkable. I'll let you know.

I went to a new clinic today for my scan. The place I go is through RMCC, but they have a mobile "Love Heals" trailer with the equipment for the scans and today it happened to be at a clinic I hadn't been to before. I mainly spoke to two people, my intake nurse and the technician. I've probably said this before, but I just think that the level of care (?) goes up a notch when you're getting specialized treatment. People seem to take more time and more interest in you.

Both of these ladies were so nice and talked to me like we were good friends. One found out that we had a child the same age and she talked to me about her daughter and school, and driving, and texting and..... The other just went right into Thanksgiving and after asking if I was ready for it and how I was spending it, told me all about her plans. Her husband is baking a turkey for her side of the family dinner which they are having at her parents house (although her parents are out of town). He's smoking a turkey for his side of the family dinner, which he will be able to attend because he has to work in the day. What? I'm not complaining. I love nice people. It just seemed a little weird and then I told myself "Be thankful Tommy. You've met some wonderfully caring people through your journey and you don't have to overthink everything."

Maybe you think they were just in the holiday spirit? Nah, I think they're like that all the time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Relay for Life'ing it!!!

My Relay for Life event is just over a week away!

I'd be so happy if you would consider supporting me. It means a great deal to me as this is very dear to my ♥heart♥ (and colon ;)

Donations can be made online at

There is also a place where you can mail in a check if that works out better for you.

Thanks so much!

My Reason to Relay

I am relaying in honor and memory of my cousin Taylor Rivera who is one of the bravest persons I've ever known. Taylor was diagnosed at 11 years old and fought courageously for 3 years. Miss you Tay!