Category Archives: shooting the breeze

Do I Really Need to Come Up With a Title…..

There’s something nostalgic about going back to the cancer center.  Some people probably run and never turn back.  That isn’t me.  I think God has sort of carved out a little niche for me with cancer and I think I need to be ok with that. 

Last week, when Jeremy was home and could watch the kids I went back to the chemo room in hopes of locating some ladies who always had herceptin infusions on the same day as me.  The difference for them was that they were on herceptin for life because they were metestatic, whereas I was only on it for a year.  And last December, my oncologist decided I was done.  That was that.  I never went back to the chemo room.  So I wanted to go back and say hi to Kim and Ardeth.  Unfortunately, they had changed the days they get infusions.  I know….I worried you when I said “unfortunately,” didn’t I.  I was worried a bit too.  I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to go back a year later to check on someone who is having chemo for life.  But I did it anyway, in hopes they were still doing well.  I did find out they ARE doing well.  But I also got to see two special people who I hadn’t seen in a while as well.  The massage therapist, Karen, who always gave me foot massages (sometimes 2) when I was getting infusions and my favorite nurse Stephanie.  I could tell they were really happy to see me.  They oohed and aahed about my hair and how great I looked and it felt really good.  I bet it feels really good to see someone come back recovered after cancer.

So then today I had my 6 month appointment.  Which went fabulous.  I am doing great.  Not one itty bitty concern.  I’m so thankful. 

So I had a good talk with my oncologist about helping out at the cancer center, and I was excited because she seemed really positive about it.  So I’m hoping to dig in to that a bit more.

And my dear friend Kim, who does web design, has agreed to help me improve on my little wordpress blog.  So I’ll be excited to see that evolve in to a little bit more of a resource for young women going through cancer with a spiritual emphasis.  So watch out for her artistic touch!  She’s very good at what she does!

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Healthy and Happy

Life is normal.  Everything is normal.  I eat.  I sleep.  I feed the kids.  I water the kids.  They grow.  I study.  I work.  And life goes on.  This is good.  This is very good.

I’m enjoying my kids.  Although, I have an (almost) three-year old little boy, and this makes life rather challenging.  I was at the family doctor the other day and I had Elijah busy with my iphone playing games through most of the visit, but at the very end, my lovely little boy got bored and started throwing a very monstrous fit about something (there are so many these days I can’t remember why he throws them anymore).  The doctor, who is very cool and very patient with all my kids, looks at him for a few seconds and says…….”Yup, there’s that testosterone kick’in in.”  So he’s a bundle of energy.  And thanks to my class (I’m taking Lifespan and Development) I’m reminded that at age three a child will be busier than any other point in their life.  So we’re just holding on for the ride right now and we’ll weather the three-year-old storm.  At least I think we’ll make it…..well, at least Elijah will make it.  He may leave a mess in his path, a little hair in his chubby little hands from his sisters maybe, a tidal wave from the tub, but we’ll get through somehow…..lol.

So I’m doing well.  I’m taking a class finally.  And I’m doing pretty well.  Even my teacher has told me I’m doing well.  I think she wants to encourage me…..here I am, 37 year old woman, three kids, recent cancer survivor, pastor…..I’d be encouraging me too….lol! 

I’ve lost the weight I gained from radiation.  I know, don’t ask me why I ballooned during radiation, but I did.  I gained 20 pounds.  All I can theorize is that I was so tired that my body slowed down.  I was completely opposite with the weight gain/loss expectations.  I think you’re supposed to gain in chemo and lose in radiation.  I did the opposite.  I lost in chemo and gained in radiation.  Now, it would have been nice to have been the other way around because then the losing would have been last.  But no,of course not, that would be too easy.  But after some diligence and some pavement pounding, I am almost back to pre-radiation and pre-baby weight. 

I’ve been running.  I ran a 5K race last weekend at my college reunion.  It was just a fun run, but I ran it in under 30 minutes which was a nice little achievement for me.  That, and I didn’t walk.  It’s always good to run the entire race when you actually set out to do so.  And I did.  And I’m relieved, because it would have been really embarassing to have to walk during a race at your 15 year college reunion (especially when I ran cross country for 4 years in college!)

I love my job.  I love the people I work with.  I love being in ministry.  I love praying with people and for people.  I love the care aspects of ministry.  I like planning new ministries.

I like my new breasts.  It’s taken a while, but I finally feel like they are either adjusting to me or I am adjusting to them.  It took us a while to get aquanted, but now I think I like them.  I’m going to let them stay.  I can see the scars lightening.  Post-digger is relaxing a bit so things are evening up.  I’m heading back to see Dr. D in November.  I’m still undecided about implants.  But if you asked me today I would say “I’m doing it.”  The problem is, that tomorrow might be different.  And until I can feel really sure about it, I’m going to wait.  So when I go back for my visit I’m going with a boat-load of questions to ask him. 

And finally, I love not having doctor appointments.  My next appointment (besides seeing Dr. Plastic) is an actual physical in December.  I haven’t had a physical in 2 years since life has revolved around only cancer. 

It’s good to be healthy.

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Occupational Hazard

Here’s the deal.  If I were to read in the newspaper the word “pastor” showing her “reconstructed breast” in the same sentence I would be checking it out too….lol!   I don’t know why I find this so hysterically funny but I do.  I’m actually super glad this article came out in Chicago because if my congregation caught wind here in Michigan that I was showing my chest around on the internet I’m sure I’d be dooced. 

The whole blogging and writing about my breasts thing is sometimes a bit weird for me as “clergy” girl.  As I was talking to my plastic surgeon last time, we were discussing the implant option because I am a bit small for my size, and I told him it might just be an occupational hazard for me.  I mean, if I worked at hooters…..not so much.  But I’m a pastor and I preach and I don’t think my congregation wants Pamela Anderson in the pulpit.  Ok….so he’s not going to make me THAT big, but still….implants?   So when and if I decide to do this I will NOT be asking my church to pray for that surgery because can you imagine….everyone checking out my breasts that next Sunday.  Seriously.  It will be one of those very secretive events and because it would only be a little bit bigger I think I’d get away with it without too much distraction.  Don’t believe me?   It is so  natural for people to glance at my chest that I am becoming very used to it.  If I say I’ve had a mastectomy (glance) I then tell them I’ve had reconstruction.  And when I had my mastectomies and told someone I had just had mastectomies (glance) and was wearing my prosthetics, I always had to explain they were the fake ones.  And even now with my new reconstruction (glance) whenever I tell someone….they want to look!  We with breast cancer are very much used to the glances.    And just so you feel better, go ahead and glance, by the time I finished breast cancer treatment I was so comfortable with talking about breasts that I would flipantly throw around the word like it was as comfortable to talk about as my kids or my car.  I have to remind myself that some people just aren’t that comfortable with it. 

So I’m sorry to say, that if you came to my blog site looking to see my bare chest, well, you’re not going to find it.   Not that I really haven’t shared almost everything else in this blog, but I have not posted my breasts.  Nor is this saying that I never will.  I mean….for the sake of the greater good I might think about it.  But probably not.  There are all lines we won’t cross and nudity is that line for me.  I’m thinking my parents are pretty happy about this line I’ve drawn for myself.  I’m sure it makes them proud.  In fact, I told my parents about the article and of course they wanted to read it, so I had to email it to them and I had to write extra in the email something like this….”but Dad….I promise I did not bare my chest to the entire world on my blog.”  Because, although they are not blog readers, and this includes mine, they surely do not want to find out their daughter is going topless on the internet….lol!

And just to clarify, because I think it was a little misunderstanding, that I did in fact post a blog about my post-surgical wound after my reconstruction with pictures and it is so gross I think about taking it down everyday.  But the emails I get from people going through this tells me I should keep it up for the next gal going through this crud.

So if you are facing a DIEP flap reconstruction, I am happy to send pictures of my reconstructed breasts directly to YOU, and not the entire blogosphere.  So email me privately and I would be ever so happy to email you faceless photos….because it’s always good to know what to expect.  And I for one am totally thankful for women who sent me pictures of their body after mastectomies and for all the faceless women in the plastic surgeon’s office that helped me visually prepare for what I was going to look like.

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Mini-Vacation to Middle Earth

After a tough week Jeremy and I got to escape. Not to Middle Earth or Snow White’s house as the pictures might lead you to believe. We were actually in Charlevoix, Michigan for a staff retreat. Besides a lot of laughter, good food and great fellowship, we got to walk on the beach and look at these adorable, fable-ish little homes designed by architect Earl Young. If you’re ever in northwest Michigan it’s worth the trip. Such a cute town too.

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Look at Them There Owls!

We were out running errands today and Charis spotted Hooters Restaurant. We have never eaten there so when she announced “there’s Hooter’s” I was interested in what she might say. She seemed like she was in the “know” with Hooters and I thought to myself….just what DOES she know about hooters anyway!

I was relieved when she explained with all knowingness to her sister that Hooters was in fact a restaurant all about owls. I breathed a bit easier after she made her announcement.

When I head to the mall I find myself hoping the girls will look away when we walk by Guess or Victoria Secrets. I’m not a prude, I just don’t want them to think it’s only about the boobs and sexuality.

And who am I kidding….just today I was checking out of the grocery store and there was Jennifer Aniston in a black leather number looking thin, busty and perfect and I found myself sucking in and standing a bit straighter. Like I can even begin to compete with that.

But we try. And I’m trying to come to terms with this whole field of plastic surgery and how I really feel about reconstruction and implants. I’m certainly happy it’s all available but I don’t want to feed in to this myth that women have to be perfect or that our self worth is somehow tied in with our breasts. I think I have a secret loathing for implants and what they represent. (But on the flipside am so happy they are available to us). Our attempt for perfection. Our unwillingness to be content and acceptance in who we really are. Our willingness to let the world and others define our sexuality.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know I don’t come to my decisions easily….lol. So once again you’ll get to hear my ramblings. My attempt to come to terms with the next step in this process of healing and wholeness.

And the only thing I can say with certainty is that I will never work in a place “just for owls!”

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Add spicket

Yes! Yes! Bring it by the truckloads! The more coffee the better!

The kids and I are traveling to Kentucky to visit family. I’m leaving them with grandparents while I head out to Oakdale, Kentucky for a college girlfriends gathering. Woohoo…rural KY! Lol! We decided hiking would be a nice change this year from shopping:)

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Dance for Breast Cancer

I didn’t happen to see this last night on So You Think You Can Dance but thought it was interesting.  At first I thought…..”oh no, two youngsters trying to re-enact being diagnosed with breast cancer as a dance.”   Like they even BEGIN to know what that’s like!  But you know, it was tender and sweet, and angry and bitter all at the same time and I was drawn their portrayal.  She may not know what it’s liked to be diagnosed but she sure put her whole self in to it.  What is even more touching is the responses from the judges.

Watch it and tell me whatcha think, especially if you’ve been through this dance.

Melissa and Ade dance for Breast Cancer on So You Think You Can Dance

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“Hungerectomy”

On our way to Chicago on Wednesday I noticed a billboard ad along the toll way.  At first I thought I was misreading it.  Basically it was the logo for a snickers candy bar with the word “hungerectomy” inside, rather than the word snickers.  I can’t recall what it said above the logo, but the message was that if you ate a snickers bar you would lose your hunger.

I’ll be honest, as someone who has had a mastectomy, I don’t understand how you can relate a candy bar craving to anything related to a serious surgical procedure.  I’m not just offended, it actually makes me a bit angry.  I’m angry for anyone who’s had a hysterectomy, a lumpectomy, an appendectomy, an oophorectomy or any other ectomy surgery.

I have gone to sleep knowing that when I wake up I will not be the same person.  A piece of my womanhood would be gone.  I don’t see how anyone could think it would be funny to relate a surgery that would remove something that is dangerous or cancerous to hunger for junk food.  Obviously the person who designed this campaign has not experienced an “ectomy” surgery nor do they know anyone who has gone through this experience.

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Maybe I need to light’en up.  But I just don’t get it.  Maybe that’s because I’m 4 days out from a reconstruction surgery, I’m in a lot of pain, and yes, I am still a tiny bit angry I’ve had to go through all of this.  It’s not a joke to me. 

What do you think?

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Survivor

I started taking yoga at the cancer center a few months ago.  As I was leaving class after my first time I was chatting with a few other women.  Talking with another woman about having breast cancer she said “Oh….I’m a real survivor, I hit my five year mark last month.  Some women think after a year they’re a survivor, but they’re not survivors yet.”  Wow (this is what I thought in my head).  But I responded “I’ve heard if you made it five minutes past you’re breast cancer diagnosis, you’re a survivor.”  And I left it at that. 

I’ve decided I’m a survivor.  It took me a while to accept that title, but I think it fits.  I genuinely think the worst part of breast cancer is the initial diagnosis….and maybe the first weeks after.  Those were the hardest days for me. 

I’ve noticed the IBC survivor web page only includes women who have lived more than five years.  I’m not there yet.  I haven’t risen to the ranks yet.  I hope I get there.  I think I will.

So what do you think?  Are you only a survivor when you get to five years?

If A Song Could Be President

On this very historical day I am sharing a song by my favorite band called “Over the Rhine.”  I hope the next four years are as magical as they say.  Here’s to peace and prosperity.