Tag: Women’s health issues

Just be.

image This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being with 4 amazing women from my support group “The Chemo Sabes”. Cancer made us sisters. But love and laughter makes us friends.

Thinking of how people come into your life and how things happen is quite mind-blowing. It is hard for me to believe that these women were not in my life at all BC (Before Cancer). 3 years ago I did not know them, but I feel like I’ve known them forever. They are part of the reason that I would not change a thing about what’s happened to me.

People meet in all kinds of ways, in all types of situations. At work. At the gym. Through their kids. At school. And during chemo. We’ve been through hell and back and thanks to technology, we got through that hell together. Say what you will about the evils of Facebook, but without it we would not have this bond and friendship. The Sabe Sisters (we dumped the chemo from our name when we were finished with treatment) span the country-and the globe. From Seattle to Pennsylvania. From Hawaii to New Zealand. And with Facebook we were able to be with each other at all hours, day and night. When I was on the couch, so sick that I couldn’t really do anything other than go to the bathroom, they were there, always ready to comment on a gripe. Some of us had it worse than others, but we all had our ailments. From battered nails to bloody noses. Stomach pain to bad skin. I could always count on chatting with someone that could relate.

A little over 2 and a half years ago we were all in that fragile state, watching the outside world go by while ours was on hold, but we had each other. When I was so depressed that I couldn’t enjoy good food or going on fun trips, I knew that my sisters were out there too, feeling the same way. While you don’t wish this on anyone, it does help to know you aren’t alone. It is amazing that many of us are still close, and have formed true lifelong friendships. We went from gagging on water on our couches to sipping Chardonnay on the deck watching the sun set over the water. From sitting in the chemo chair while the medicine flowed into our bodies to sitting around the breakfast table with our mugs of coffee, watching the sun come up and chatting about how Jan is about to embark on something exciting in her career and about Anita’s recent trip to Australia. From being in bed early feeling sapped from treatment to looking at the moonlight reflect on the water on a party barge singing RESPECT at the top of our lungs into the night. We aren’t dwelling on our cancer, we are celebrating the “gifts” it gave us. I can say that now that I am out of it.

Sure, we talk about the nasty c. That’s what brought us together. No one gets it like us. We know more about each other than most people know. Intimate details of the worst times of our lives. So yeah it does come up. And that’s okay. But it is no longer the only topic of our conversations.

Thinking about my weekend I can’t help but smile at the highlights:

Tina and I sharing a guest bedroom with 2 twin beds, watching old Duran Duran DVDs and feeling like we were back in high school, talking into the night. I feel like we have been friends since high school and we’ve only known each other for a couple of years. We were meant to meet for sure.

And just watching Anita dancing in her seat and singing to the music and having a GOOD TIME. Not drunk on wine but high on life.

And hearing Jan talk about the passion she has about her job and the work she does now and hopes to do in the future as she prepares to run for office. And “meeting” her precious children on Facetime.

And seeing Susan in her element at the lake–I got a glimpse of how much she thoroughly enjoys life all the time with her family and friends. We should all live like that!

I sat back and soaked it all in.

We are living our lives again.

I hope that one day more of our sisters can get together with us at these gatherings. They are truly inspiring. I still haven’t met all of the girls, but I hope to one day. It’s funny when you finally meet a Sabe that you only knew online. You just feel  like you are hugging a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.

I am happy to say the sun is shining. Again.

Looking at life through pink colored glasses

Let me start off by saying that while I am very open about my cancer diagnosis and health situation, it is still really hard to share some of the “gory details” unless I am talking to someone in one of my support groups or a close family member. It’s sad to admit that, but there is still a level of embarrassment I feel because of where this cancer was–the ta-tas. Writing this really puts it all out there for all to see and this is kind of new for me at this level. I did a Caring Bridge journal, but I didn’t even share my diagnosis in the Facebook world when I was in the throws of treatment, only a select group of people knew what I was dealing with. And forget about posting bald pictures. I just love the women that embrace it and own it. But I was not that person.

I remember sending a few of my closest friends a bald pic one day in a text, telling them to delete it immediately after seeing it. It was like an action spy movie– I wanted the message to self-destruct in 3 seconds. One friend said that I have a cute little head. Most women will never see themselves that way, and as I sit here it is hard to remember those days, where I had to wear a wig and a hat all the time, even to bed because my head would get cold. You don’t appreciate hair that much until you lose it. I now find myself playing with it, stroking it to feel how silky soft it feels, smelling it and inhaling the delicious smell of a fresh shampoo. Because I CAN. I still go back and forth about posting the Mr. Clean look here in my blog. We’ll see. It is just so hard for me to see myself that way, looking sickly, though I know it was necessary to get me to where I am right now. Alive.

I believe in intuition and gut instincts. My mom, working for oncologists for most of her career, always harped on me to do self-exams through the years. She even gave me a fake boob (a foob), made of squishy rubber with hard little lumps in it to practice on. Even well before my 40s she stressed the importance of this, telling me that you could get it even when you are young. So I got to know my girls pretty well.

I was always well-endowed. And dense. And lumpy. And always had this odd feeling that one day I was going to get the dreaded C. And I did. I just thought it would be years down the road from now maybe in my 60s. Not when I was 44. I always wondered when my time would come. I guess that’s why I never asked myself the “Why Me” question, I always asked “When Me”. Even though I had a feeling those ta-tas would cause me the ultimate grief, I was still in complete shock when it happened.

I’ve never been fond of my “jugs”. Being bigger on top meant that I could not wear some of the cute tank tops that I would see friends wearing in the summer. Being bigger meant if I wore something a bit tight, I would get comments, ogled at, pointed at and yes, called names. So I became very self conscious over it, covering myself up with baggy clothes and turtle necks. I always said I would love to get rid of them. Well,  I did get rid of them. Completely. Maybe they were pissed off at me for not showing them much love over the years, I don’t know. But I have a new set and quite honestly, I really like them! Out with the old, in with the new. I don’t have to go for mammograms any more and that is huge. The first time I went for one after this all happened, I had hot flashes, felt like I could not breathe and was having major heart palpitations. PTSD. I get it any time I go to a doctor now, but to get the mammo again was pure agony for me.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Women need to be aware and check themselves along with the mammos. I found mine myself, because I had that little mom-voice in my ear telling me to always do a self-exam. But I feel that this month should not be just for talking about breast cancer. If you are one of those folks that just does not go to a doctor, you need to start. Get the dreaded tests, as crappy as they are, that come with age. If you think something is off, your gut will usually tell you what to do. Mine did.

Along with this month comes a lot of pink stuff. Friends of mine that have gone through cancer have mixed emotions on this. Some do the walks waving pink survivor flags wearing pink from head to toe, while others call it “stinktober”. I don’t participate in all of the pink activities but I am not against them. I just wish there was more awareness about other forms of cancer, more focus on metastatic cancer, and focus on rare illnesses that don’t really get any attention. I don’t walk around in a pink haze. I don’t go out and do the events. And pink is my least favorite color. But I am writing about it. And if that helps just one person, I’ve accomplished something.

Of course, I have to end my blog with something Duran related (because that’s what I do). So in honor of this month, here is a song called Sekret Oktober. I am going to make you non-Duranies fans, you will see!