Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Carousel of Courage

The in-between. That’s what I’m stuck in right now. No… not the Upside Down like in Stranger Things. Though, sometimes I feel like that. 

I’m waiting to see my medical oncologist. It’s my first visit since starting hormone therapy and one of four appointments this week. What people don’t often realize is that once chemo and radiation is over new challenges emerge for cancer survivors. Our fight isn’t over. It’s just a new ring and a new set of boxing gloves we're putting on.

I’m stuck between Herceptin infusions and adjusting to the new me as I try to ease into my life after cancer. As I look around the waiting room I see a lot of hope. Everyone here is fighting… trying to stay abreast… trying to adjust to their new reality. For me, it’s no longer the roller coaster… the one that newly diagnosed patients buckle up for. I’ve, thankfully, gotten off that ride. I’m now on a carousel. I mean, I like carousels but this one is getting a bit monotonous. There’s nothing merry about this merry-go-round. The music may change but the horses still go up-and-down and round-and-round. I can’t get off… yet. 

Then there is the angst of anxiety and the fears of relapse that sneak into my head just when I think the ride has slowed down. The random rash. The look at the calendar of appointments. The continued lack of appetite. Each of these these could have any warrior feeling lost navigating a new post-cancer life… leaving them to wonder: What happens if the cancer comes back? Will I ever feel normal again? And most daunting of all, how do I move forward with my life? I’m supposed to be better. So why don’t I feel better? I’m told this is all normal, so I’ll keep going. I see the next finish line in the distance. I know the carousel WILL stop. In the meantime, this cancer thriver will try to enjoy the view from the carousel of courage. The view will sometimes be hazy. Sometimes it’ll be sunny and clear. Either way, there’s comfort in knowing I’m not alone on the carousel. 

So, to my fellow warriors out there. To anyone reading this… because we’re all warriors… in our own way. Remember what Steve Harrington in Stranger Things said, “I”m stealthy, like a ninja.” Keep going.

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27th Forecast: Shower of Kindness

It’s my Birthday! A lot has changed between this day last year and today. What did I do with my 40th year of life? I kicked cancer’s ass! I’m celebrating the gift of just being here! 

There is one more thing I am celebrating today. I finish radiation! This third of four mountains to climb … not as bad as I’d thought it would be. I actually felt fairly “normal” over the daily 6 weeks of treatment. That is … until Wednesday at work around 11pm… when it struck. Fatigue. That nice reminder that I am undergoing treatment still and that radiation isn’t like a quick tanning session for half my chest! The last 48 hours have been tough. I’ve needed people to push me to the top of this mountain. It’s been strangers telling me about the “great energy” I have. It’s been friends and family cheering me on… reminding me I’m almost there. “Keep going,” they say! It’s been reading the cards on my Wall of Hope. It was the truck driver who honked at me and gave me a thumbs up this week. The instructor at Soul Cycle who thanked me for taking his class. It’s been the little things. It’ll continue to be the little things. Those are my Birthday gifts. There have been many not listed here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I still haven’t crossed that finish line yet. I will though later this year. We all have finish lines we want to cross. I’ve been told I’m an “inspiration," but I'm no different than anyone else who has been thrown into a scary situation beyond their control. We all have the ability to inspire. I hope I inspire kindness. We all have the ability to sprinkle kindness around. If you know me. You know I am a giver. You know I’m a cheesy kinda gal. So, get ready to spread (or eat) that cheese. My Birthday wish is that you do something kind for someone. Anyone. It could be just smiling at a stranger. Buying a coffee or drink for someone. Donating to a charity. It could be as easy as complimenting someone. Whatever you want. Just sprinkle some kindness please. Maybe those sprinkles will turn into a shower! As we know... after every storm, there is a rainbow. 

#ShowerOfKindness and this weekend I'll post a list somewhere of every act of kindness done.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Breast Thing This Holiday is Gratitude and You

It’s nearly Christmas Eve and the first night of Chanukah. The rain is falling. The air is crisp. I love this time of year! 

A lot can change in a year. Your life can change in a year. It’s not about the gifts. It’s about being grateful. 

I’m grateful because cancer has taught me what’s really important. It knocked me down over an over again, but I’ve gotten back up… like I did today… when radiation kicked my booty yesterday. 

I’m grateful for my doctors and nurses …. who… when I’m in their offices crying out of frustration or covered in rashes…always have a concerned smile and find an answer for me.

I’m grateful for for my family (especially my parents) and friends, because I know it’s been just as difficult for you as it’s been for me. I am grateful for all of you. YOU are my gifts! You are the stars that brighten the sky on those nights all I see is darkness.

Although chemo has some side effects that I’m still struggling with, I am grateful to wake up “healthy.” I know this journey could have been different if this was a different year.

Never take anything in your life for granted. The frosted cookies you’ll likely eat tonight… the candles you may light… the hugs you will get…the memories you will make. Live your life! Share your smile! Celebrate the little things! Never forget what’s really important.

Happy Holidays from my corner of the world to yours! 


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Don't Worry, Be Thankful

April 22, 2016. I’m at work. My cell phone rings. It’s my radiologist. I leave the newsroom to go into the hall and sit on the floor. Why? I know I’m about to learn some life changing and breaking news. I take a breath. “You have cancer,” says the doctor. David Muir walks by as I sit on the floor. “How ironic,” I think, as I try to process what the radiologist is telling me. I hear him say something about surgeons…that the tumor was small… that I should be okay. Everything else is just white noise. I hang up feeling numb and not surprised. Cancers of all kind run in my family. I knew this was the likely diagnosis. I just wasn’t expecting it… after my first mammogram (which I randomly decided to have following a visit to my gynecologist)…at 40. Only two people knew that in the last 38 hours I’d gone in for a mammogram and had a biopsy. They were not my parents. No need to worry them until there was something to say. Now I had something to say but didn’t know when to say it. It was the day before I was to fly home for Passover. Keep my mouth shut until the last day of my short trip home or tell them tonight… while I’m at work. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and knew I had to get some fresh air. Work was quiet. I told my friend/colleague who knew about the biopsy that I was going to Central Park for some fresh air. I didn’t give her details. Just texted her I’d be back shortly. I sat on a bench, put on my sunglasses and let the tears roll down my cheeks. I looked at all the people walking by. They seemed so happy. I was anything but. The world had kept turning for them. My world had just paused. I wiped my tear-stained cheeks and walked across the street and back to work. I sat down and texted my friend/colleague that I had cancer. She was sitting next to me. I just couldn’t say the words out loud. I didn’t want to, but had to share the breaking news with someone. In hindsight, texting people you have cancer is probably not the best way to share big news. However, for me, it was the easiest. 

5 months later I’m happy to say surgery is done. Chemo… check that off the “Kicking Cancer’s Ass” list. Up next is radiation. So on this Thanksgiving… a mishmash of what cancer has taught me thus far or reminded me of. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  1. Be thankful for your parents and friends. I could not have made it this far without my parents and friends… period. 
  2. True friends will step up. Keep these people by your side and never let them go.
  3. It’s okay to be selfish when it comes to your health. You could lose it tomorrow.
  4. Not everyone has the same heart as you. Don’t expect people to treat you the same way as you would treat them. You will just end up disappointed.
  5. Keep going. Physically and mentally. Remind yourself that bad days are just temporary.
  6. You will learn something from every person you meet. (Blog post to come on this one!) 
  7. Some people will make you feel small. But for every crappy person out there, there is a good person.
  8. Just breathe. Anything bad happening at a particular moment will pass. 
  9. One smile from a stranger can brighten a dark day, so share your smile.
  10. You never know what a person is going through. Cut them some slack if they do something  to piss you off.
  11. Nobody fights alone.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Marathon

Good Morning! It’s the calm before the marathon madness. The barriers are up, the runners are  getting ready, and soon the streets surrounding my apartment will be full of cheering … and later on…. finishers! 

As I get up and look at the barriers I realize those of us battling cancer … or any kind of long-term health issue …. are all running marathons … just a different kind. We are being cheered on, just like the marathon runners getting ready to pound the pavement. I see the cheering in Instagram posts of fellow warriors. I see it in Tweets. We are all cheering each other on.

As I hear a cowbell ring outside it hits me. I’m rounding the corner on the second leg of my own kind of New York City marathon! I’m exhausted. My bones feel old. I look tired. I am just tired. I’m so tired that my tired is tired! However, I look to my right and see the aid station before the next leg of the race. I look to my left and I see all my friends and family cheering … just like those who have their friends and family supporting them on the streets of New York today.

As Dean Karnazes once said, “Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

Keep Going

Hello! It's been a bit, but I'm finding some energy to write. As some of you may know, since April I've joined the thousands upon thousands of warriors battling different kinds of cancer... or just plain health issues. It's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster and I found myself just needing to type last night ... to boost my spirits. Sometimes you gotta be your own cheerleader! I hope this inspires you to keep going on days you just feel dumpy, sad or frustrated. Here's what I wrote .... 

I’m tired. I’m tired of doctors. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of not being able to do much of anything… and yet I keep moving one foot in front of each other. I just gotta keep running the race till I cross that finish line. I’m not going to lie. It is super frustrating when the finish line gets pushed back a few more hundred yards. It’s like a not funny joke. You just gotta remember there are people cheering you on along the sidelines. You fall down. You curse. You cry. You get back up and keep an eye that finish line. Why? Because you see the big picture. You are alive! You were given that gift. You WILL get better. Things may be different once you cross that finish line. Your life. Your perspective. Your priorities. But remember… you WILL reach that other side of the finish line. You just gotta keep moving one foot in front of another no matter how big or tiny the step. You don’t need to enjoy it, you just need to tackle it any way you can. The secret=keep going!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Be The Light. Be The Change. Beat The Bully

“The best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

I’m not sure who wrote, or said, those words. However, that’s the message I tweeted in my Positivity Project today. The project, combined with Daniel J. Watts’ THE JAM: LOVE TERRORISTS (A Benefit for Orlando), is why I’m writing this blog.

I mentioned tonight’s event (link will be at the bottom) to some people. Their reaction was that it sounded good! However, some raised their eyebrows at the title of the event. Why? It has the word “terrorists” in it.

Let’s look at the word “terrorist.” One dictionary defines it as “a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims.” Fortunately, we (thank you to those who serve and protect) don’t often use terrorism and America in the same breath. However, I feel, that there are terror attacks happening in our country all the time. I’m not talking about the terror attacks involving bombs, guns or hostages. I’m talking about another kind of attack that happens every day… in every city… in every school. It’s an attack everyone has suffered or witnessed in their lives. It’s the terror of an attack from a bully. You don’t have to be a kid to experience bullying. It happens to adults too. It has to stop. I truly believe we need to raise each other up. We need to support each other on this journey of life. We can stop the terror.

The question is… will you do the right thing, the wrong thing, or nothing. Nobody should have to fight bullies alone. The man who walked into Pulse nightclub in Orlando was a bully. He created terror. As a country… as a community… we are stronger than any bully. We showed that on June 12th. 

Orlando Strong. Dallas Strong. Baton Rouge Strong. America Strong.