None of the Above.

I haven’t  written for a while. I will admit I’ve felt somewhat discouraged lately about my writing, so I stopped. No excuses, other than I am having a hard time getting this blog thing to take off. I’ve tried Tweeting the link, posting it on Duran’s FB page, sharing on FB, and tagging with every word I can think of to attract people, but I just am not getting the readers I envisioned. I am not a very patient person, anyone that knows me knows that, so after several posts and no real followers, I started thinking maybe I needed to focus on something that really mattered, something that could help people. When I had the idea of this blog and shared with my mom, she questioned the idea of incorporating Duran Duran into my story, saying that it might limit my audience. But, I held true to my vision and soldiered on for a while. Sadly though, the discouraged feelings really started setting in and that itch and excitement I felt at the beginning faded. I started to believe that maybe this WAS not the best idea, that maybe my writing just isn’t that great and blogging is a waste of time.

A couple weeks ago, I did some heavy soul searching, asking myself what it is that truly makes me happy and fulfilled. Of course spending time with my family and my kids is number one, but also listening to my favorite band and helping others and writing were top on my list. I realized at that moment that I am not writing to become famous or get thousands of readers,  I am doing it for ME. If just one person reads it and likes it, that’s all I need. And I decided I am not going to change a thing about this blog, especially the Duran Duran references. This is my way of saying thanks to a band that has brought me joy in so many dark times. I just wish they could read it. Or at least another Duranie. Someone. Anyone. Is there anyone out there, anyone out there…

My blog is unique and won’t be everyone’s cup of English Breakfast.  But if I touch at least one person, then I have done my job. And writing is good therapy. So here I am back at it.

On Wednesday, I was able to see my favorite band for the 3rd time this tour. It doesn’t get old. I was dancing my ass off the entire show, while I saw other fans sitting! Not sure how you could spend that much on floor tickets and sit still while there is such energy all around. Duran makes me forget about anything negative and stressful and I am in another world for 2 hours. What a great way to spend an evening with good friends I don’t often see. I want to go again. And again. And again.

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I am at a point in my life where I want to make some changes. But that’s not always easy– I’m not 20 years old and single, able to do whatever I want whenever I want. I can’t just pick up and move to the beach, or quit my job to write full time. I realize this, but I also realize that life is too short and you need to be happy. There are a couple of things that are up in the air right now for me and the family, and I have been really hoping and praying this one ‘big thing’ happens for us. I know in my heart it’s right, but life has a way of going in directions that you can’t control. Of course if you’ve read my posts, you know that I really believe in signs and guardian angels. Once again, the other day I was headed to work and I had no idea what song was in queue on my shuffle to play. I was in one of those moods where I just want this so much that it exhausts me just thinking about it. None of the Above is a song from the Wedding Album–the album that brought Duran and I back together after a short break (sorry boys, I can’t imagine life without you now, but for a time I was forced into being a Stones and Zeppelin fan, not that there is anything wrong with that, but they aren’t you). The song never really had any meaning to me other than it was a catchy tune, but on this day as I was sitting in the usual rush hour traffic, I heard some lyrics that summed it all up perfectly. No matter what happens, I am enjoying myself right now and leaving it all up to the universe. Shouldn’t take a health scare to make you do that, but for me that is exactly what needed to happen. I know things will work out they way they should. And I am no longer afraid to be myself. I don’t care so much what others might think like I used to.  And it feels amazing.

 

There was a time I was so afraid
Of everything people around me said
That I wanted to hide my face in the shadows

There was a time on a bed of nails
I was dreaming a plan I thought could not fail
But no power under the sun could pull it together

I can’t take this attitude
Got to show now I got to move on
God knows where I’m going to
Its a lonely burning question…

 

 

Happy Last Year

Cancer. It is something ugly that I dealt with in 2014. But that was then and this is now.

When the big C hit me in January 2014, there was still a Happy New Year Balloon dancing around the house, all cheery and colorful. When I bought it for the kids, it was with the belief and hope the new year would be an even better year than the one before. When that ball drops at midnight and you kiss your loved ones  while clinking your glasses, you never think that maybe the new year won’t be that awesome and happy. You want it to be a great one, better than the last.  But you just don’t know. I remember when I was diagnosed just staring at that damn balloon thinking how ironic it was because happy new year turned into crappy new year for me. I wanted to take a kitchen knife to that thing several times, but I just couldn’t do it. Call me superstitious.

It was a rough 2014, no doubt about it. But that year came and went, and I spent that NYE with my husband, kids and close friends in one of my favorite places, Disney. I always forget about things at Disney and I was so happy to see 2014 go. So when the fireworks started going off at midnight, I was thrilled to usher in 2015.

2015 was a pretty good year. I finished my treatments, and saw some new places. First time visiting Las Vegas (now I am hooked), Colorado, Seattle and to finish it off, went on a cruise to the Cayman islands and spent Christmas at Disney with my parents. I hoped 2016 would even be better, and it was.

I had a lot of quality family time–my husband, kids and I went to Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon. We then went on another cruise and back to Disney, this time staying in a childhood favorite hotel of mine The Contemporary. It always makes me happy to see my kids at Disney enjoying themselves so much while remembering my childhood there. Nothing compares. I also celebrated my birthday with old friends and new ones watching Duran Duran perform in VEGAS. (I told you I am hooked!). That concert had me on my feet the entire time, I was even jumping up and down for many songs. I don’t dance like that, but there was something about seeing them and the music and what I had been through that just got me. I cried, sang, laughed, screamed like a teenager. The only thought I had about cancer was that I was so lucky to be there enjoying myself and that it was behind me.

One memory about 2016 that stands out is one that I firmly believe was arranged by a higher power.

Let me start this by saying that Duran Duran has  not only gotten me through my cancer, but life in general. I am working on a book that goes into more depth on how their music has been my therapy, but lets just say that some of my darkest hours have been made better by simply hearing one of their songs. As I wrote in a previous post, the song “What Happens Tomorrow” got me through the darkest time after my diagnosis. I hadn’t listened to the radio in my car for about a week, I would just drive around numb in silence. One morning, I was really scared and asked for some sort of sign that I would get through it. I decided on the way to work that morning to turn on the radio for some noise in the car, and what came on blew me away. “What Happens Tomorrow” was just what I needed and I know someone from above was giving me the sign I begged for.

So, fast forward to September 2016. I had just gone through my second and last surgery for reconstruction (my 4th surgery since diagnosis) and Duran were playing at a small venue downtown. My husband got me really good seats and my friend Tina came down to see them with me. Side note: Tina is also a survivor, we met through an online support group and have become really close–proof that something amazing can come out of something horrible. When we met, we quickly learned that we both love Duran Duran so we always said we were going to see them together when they toured, never thinking it would be twice!

The concert was amazing, though I didn’t have quite the energy I had in Vegas because of my surgery. But that couldn’t stop me and I didn’t sit down,  determined to keep going for my guys and show them the love they deserve.

Tina and I joked that maybe we would run into them downtown after the show, but never really thought it was possible and it never happened. The next day, Tina went back home and I went back to work after my surgery leave. A coworker and I were scheduled to go to lunch, but I tried to cancel, telling her we should just stay in the office and not venture out. It was too hot to walk around, and I was really tired from the surgery and the concert. She insisted, saying that she wanted to treat me for my birthday since we never celebrated. After several minutes of going back and forth on it, I gave in. We went to one of her favorite downtown restaurants in her favorite hotel. Before going to eat, she showed me around the hotel, pointing out the history and the beauty. What happened next blew me away.

While heading over to the restaurant, we turned the corner and right in front of me was John Taylor. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at my coworker, not even believing what was happening. She knew how much I loved Duran and that I had been at the show the night before, so she put two and two together and realized that I was standing in front of one of them. I was speechless and borderline crying. Then Roger walked over from the concierge desk joining our little circle. This was too much–I had met John a couple of years ago, but he was behind a desk signing books and there were a lot of people in line, so it was rushed and not as personal. This was like magic. They were on their way out, so had we not walked around or if we arrived at that spot just a few minutes later, I would have never seen them. I couldn’t even relay how I felt to them and why I was so emotional. I wish I could have told them what their music has done for me and how it got me through. But I couldn’t utter much at all. John could see the emotion on my face and actually consoled me, he must have known the impact they made on me by my reaction. This meant so much to me– they were really nice about the whole thing, confirming my devotion to this band.

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When I went back to work the next day, I couldn’t help but share my story with others. I told one person how the song came on that day giving me hope, and then how I ran into them at the hotel. She said that my guardian angel closed the loop for me–that I was given that song for hope and then arranged that meeting to signify the end of my surgery and cancer journey. It made so much sense and I truly believe that is what happened that day.

So 2016 was a great year. I am yet another year out from cancer, and I have memories I will never forget. I am going to spend the final hours of 2016 cherishing these memories.

I will admit tonight won’t be the easiest night–Duran Duran are playing in MD and my fellow Duranie Tina will be there ringing in the new year with them. I tried to make the trip work, but decided that it was too much to try to go. Now I regret it. I wish I could ring in 2017 with Tina and Duran Duran, but I will have to just live through her posts. Now I know how she felt when I met them after she headed home. I have heard they are adding dates in Texas in March, so I will hold onto that. I have to see them again, I’m kind of addicted.

Happy Last Year!

This song sums it up for me. Enjoy!

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Thankful-This one is for my hairstylist Cassandra!

Well, I gotta say it feels so good to be back here at the keyboard. I’ve been so busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays that I just haven’t taken the time to write. As I sit here sipping the last drops of my coffee, charging up my batteries so I can embark on a hectic day of Christmas shopping, I started thinking about things and feeling a bit sappy. Everyone knows it’s the time of year to appreciate those that have made a difference in your life in some way or another, so I am focusing my next series of posts on those people that may not even know what impact they’ve made on me.

Now if I don’t write about you it doesn’t mean that you didn’t help me during that dark time. There are just a few that I want to take a moment to recognize that may not even know how they made me feel.

This one is dedicated to my hairstylist, Cassandra.

Cassandra’s job is to make people beautiful. She works hard every day snipping, coloring, washing, drying, combing. She attends classes and shows, and helps teach others how to perfect their craft. She is damn good at what she does and clearly has a passion for her art.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my mom suggested I cut my long thick hair off into a short style, so when it started coming out there wouldn’t be so much of it in the drain, on the floor and on my pillow. I had worked so hard growing it out and getting it the right color, so this was unbelievably hard.  I took her advice though, and went to my stylist, telling her what was happening and why I wanted to chop it off. She was so awesome with me and cut it into a cute style that I would only actually have for about a month, no charge I might add. She did her best to make me feel cute, knowing how hard it was for me to cut it. But that isn’t the only thing she did.

Losing my hair was very traumatic and one of the hardest parts of my journey. I didn’t see Cassandra for quite some time, and I will never forget my first salon appointment after my hair came back in. It felt so incredible to actually go in and have my hair trimmed. Sitting in the chair I realized how I missed the whizzing sound of blow dryers in the background and the delicious tea that they serve. I missed hearing about Cassandra’s dogs and where she had traveled to lately. Normally I don’t give much thought to going in for a hair cut (I enjoy it, but it’s just another part of my routine), but that day it felt amazing. I actually felt like a normal woman again!

She was there for me along the way as it grew back. At first it was straight and looked cute, but then it started coming in very curly and wild and many times I wanted to just cut it all off short and forget about ever growing it again. But she  wouldn’t let me do it. She knew how much I wanted my hair to be long again, so she kept telling me to bear with it and we would get it there. I had faith and trust that she knew what I needed to do so I listened to her.

I will never forget the time I got it styled and colored after months of just trimming it and growing it out. My hair had finally started straightening out and had grown long enough to actually do something with. I remember looking in the mirror and just feeling so happy. I finally looked like myself again with a hair style that felt like mine, with no chemo curls! She worked a miracle that day. I hugged her and walked out to my car, looking in my mirror through tears. Cancer did not rob me of my hair after all.

I never told her how I really felt that day. I felt pretty for the first time in ages, and that meant so much to me.

Cassandra not only works hard at the salon, but she works hard at home with her fur babies. She has rescued many dogs and gives them a loving home and lots of attention. She is making an impact not only with her clients, but with man’s best friends too. Being a dog lover, this warms my heart so much. I love seeing pictures of her family.

Feeling pretty after chemo is HUGE for a woman. It takes so much from you-messes with your skin, your nails, you lose your eyebrows, your eyelashes, your hair. It ages you and makes some lose too much weight and others gain weight. While it was all worth it to have my life, it is still very hard.

Cassandra, thank you for what you do not only for me but for all your clients (and of course the boxers you’ve rescued). I know you like Duran Duran so here is a video for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I won!

Let me start by saying that I never win anything. I’ve entered countless raffles, sweepstakes, bought lottery tickets, entered my name into various drawings. Nothing. I don’t gamble much for this very reason. I can’t stand to see my money disappear.

One day I was in one of my favorite beauty supply stores, and upon checkout I was asked if I would add some money to my bill for a donation. I will do this occasionally if it’s a cause I believe in. Like the American Heart Association–I think of my uncle who had a heart transplant. Or St. Jude’s–I think of my own kids and how lucky I am they are healthy. So when they said they were raising money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, I didn’t hesitate. I guess when I donated, they had me fill out a card to enter a raffle for a prize. I don’t even remember doing this–I probably didn’t give it much thought since I NEVER WIN.

Now granted, this prize is not a million dollars, nor is it a week long trip to a five-star hotel in a tropical destination. But I am just as excited about it. It’s just a tote bag with some beauty products in it. I won’t have to buy much for a while, I’ve got everything from perfume to lipsticks. Shampoo to moisturizers. I’m pretty psyched!

When I went in to claim my prize, the girl working there thanked me for my donation to breast cancer. I had forgotten about filling out the card  and the donation until she mentioned this. I replied, “Breast cancer? That’s why I won this? Well it’s pretty amazing that I won THIS prize because I’m actually a survivor.” She put her hand to her mouth looking emotional and said that it was meant to be.

Lately I have been worrying about the metastis thing. I’ve had some neck pain that is nagging me and of course I think it’s cancer. I hate that for the rest of my life, I will feel this way. When the call came in that I won a prize, the neck pain took a backseat to my cheer. As soon as I got it home, I felt like a kid on Christmas opening their stocking, going through all of my little treasures, pulling out this and that, opening the packages see what was inside.  It helped me forget about the stupid neck pain. I believe it was God’s way of telling me to stop worrying so much. It was just the diversion I needed.

This is how I feel about cancer and metastisis , from one of my all time favorite Duran Duran songs:
I walk out into the sun
I try to find a new day
But the whole place
It just screams in my eyes
Where are you now?
Cuz I don’t want to meet you
I think I’d die–
I think I’d laugh at you–
I think I’d cry–
What am I supposed to do,
Follow you?

 

 

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Pull my shirt off and pray we’re coming up on re-election day

I have nothing much to post right now except I thought this song by the Duran Duran spinoff group Arcadia was worth posting. This video is the 80s in all their neon hair sprayed made-up glory.

And the lyric above couldn’t be more perfect.

I won’t be pulling my shirt off any time soon, though part of me thinks what the hell! This election might be the thing that sets me over the edge! A lot of suffering, pain and surgery went into this bod, so why not??  And the picture that comes to my mind when I imagine me at an Election Day viewing party just tearing my “I’m with her” tee-shirt off and starting everyone in the Lord’s Prayer makes me laugh a little.

I am not going to get into who we should all vote for, I don’t make it a habit of talking politics much. But hopefully you get out there and do it.

Now, let us pray.

 

Hair

Seen better times than right now
But I’m not runnin’ away
No nothing’s gonna bring me down

It’s just been one of those days…

 

This past week, I was able to put my hair up in a ponytail for the first time in over 2 years. That’s progress!

Someone at work commented on my hair the other day. “Wow it’s getting long!” Flashing her my boyish photo on my work ID, I replied “you could say I’ve come a long way from this”.  She smiled, and asked the million dollar question. “What made you cut it so short?”

I could have just said something like “well I was going through a phase” or “wanted to try something new” but I have a hard time lying. So I fessed up and told her about my treatment.

I remember that part of my journey through hell vividly. It was the worst part for me, worse than surgery and treatment itself. Everyone with cancer handles this differently. Some people I know proudly showed off their bald beautiful heads. But not me. I think for me, it was officially telling the world I was sick. And I didn’t want people to know.

Grab a handful of your hair. Give it a firm tug. Kind of hurts when you do that, right?  Now imagine taking that same handful of hair and pulling it, but instead of feeling an ouch, the hair just comes out with ease and no pain. You never think you will experience that. You never think you will know what your head looks like without hair.

I remember when I started wearing the wig, I still had hair underneath. My long thick hair had been cut very short by my stylist in preparation of the big day it would start falling out. When I came home after work, I could not wait to remove the itchy wig and let my head breathe. Every day, I would give my hair a tug to see if it was the day. I remember the first time I pulled and didn’t feel the usual resistance, it was still shocking even though I knew it was coming. Once it started falling out, I would just sit down at night and pull out clumps, just wanting it gone but not ready to shave it.

One day, I pulled the wig off and it was really bad. I had hardly anything left, and what was there was  really thin and limp. There was no reason to hold on anymore, so I asked my husband to get the clippers. I cried, I laughed at his bad jokes. But we got rid of it.

Here are some of my wig looks and the first time  I went wigless in public when it was growing back. That was rough, but I was on a cruise so no one knew me. Not ready to share the bald look, but I will eventually. It is still hard to see myself like that.

On Halloween, I was trying to put together a costume. I thought a wig would make the look, but the thought of wearing one again gave me the chills. No thanks.

Really?

I know you’ve said this before. Maybe it was on that cold and dreary Monday morning when you slept through the alarm, and your child couldn’t find matching socks which made you even later, then your dog threw up on the carpet, and just as you cleaned the last of it the hem on your pants ripped and then you had to drive to work in the middle of a torrential downpour in stopped traffic which made you late for an important meeting.

Really?

Or maybe it was opening the door to the house on a 100+ degree  day and rather than feeling the cool relief of the a/c, you realize that there was no a/c — and bonus, you can’t fix it– you need a brand new unit.

Really???

Or maybe it was that one time you actually did a full-on grocery run, filling up the cart with a whole week’s worth of high-quality meats, organic milk, cheeses (you are the type of person that gets a few things here and there and goes to the store several times a week) only to put it all away and during the night the power goes out which spoils all the food.

Really?

Or maybe it was when you were sick during chemo and every day you begged your 13 year old sweet yellow lab to hang on for you through all of this. You could see her slowing down, but pleaded with her to be there to comfort you. You then watched her pass away right in front of you.

Really?!

Or maybe it was right after surgery when you finally ventured out in public. You still had tubes coming out of both sides of you and you were still walking a little hunched over from the pain of your incisions. You were so excited to find that perfect decorative vase to go on the ledge by your front door, only to realize when you got up to the cash register that your wallet had been stolen right from your purse. But on a good note, in the midst of this you get the call from the surgeon that they found no evidence of cancer.

REALLY?!

Life is full of “really” moments. And you can get hung up on them. I used to.

I now know that a plan has been written for me, but I was not given the details. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is.

Woe is me.

Why me?

It’s not fair.

Yeah, I could have said that many times in my life. When I got the cancer diagnosis, I never said “why me”. I’ve always remembered that as bad as I thought things were in my life, there are people out there that have it much worse. I was dealing with a life threatening illness, so I could have really been pissed off and feeling sorry for myself. But I didn’t. What about the parents that lost their child while on vacation at the “Happiest” Place on Earth? What about them? What about the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary? The horror that they went through and the incredible loss the parents will never get over.  What about people in other countries that are sick but can’t get medical care or even clean water to drink?

I will admit that while I never felt sorry for myself, I did complain and whine. It was my way of dealing with it. But then I think how could I complain that my water tasted so bad on chemo–at least it was clean and available and SAFE!

I don’t have it so bad.

Sometimes when you have a  moment of despair and feeling sorry for  yourself, you have to ask yourself if there are people out there that have it worse. Most times they do.

I just watched a news report about a family coming home from their kids football game. 4 kids in the car with their parents. Both parents killed.

It puts things into perspective.

I had cancer. I got treatment. I have scars. But I’m extremely lucky and blessed.