Monday, July 30, 2012

Waxing political

I rarely, if ever, weigh in on something very polarizing and political, preferring to keep my crazy-ass, makes no sense, middle-American views to myself.  As a mother who breast fed and formula fed two children, I'm gonna tell you what I think.

Mayor Bloomberg is a freaking idiot who has no clue what a shitstorm he has created by banning formula in NYC hospitals.  Has he ever tried desperately to get a newborn baby to feed, having had his breasts manhandled by every boob Sergeant in the hospital "qualified" to "educate" him about the proper form?

Has he ever sat in tears in that hospital room because his child won't nurse, feeling the waterfall of guilt because he thinks that he is the worst mother ever because he can't figure it out and everyone tells him it's what he needs to be doing?  Wrap all that up with a giant swell of new-mother hormones and you have yourself the perfect storm.

I've been that woman.  I watched my healthy baby whittle away in the hospital because the nurses refused to give me formula, telling me my baby wasn't actually hungry and that eventually, with the right coaching and practice she would be able to nurse.

I sat there for three days recovering from an unexpected c-section listening to all the "experts" about properly feeding MY CHILD, and watching them poke her sweet little pink baby foot to be sure her blood sugar was OK.

Finally, FINALLY, I woke up from the narcotic pain meds they were pushing on me and demanded.  DEMANDED. I DEMANDED that they give me a bottle of formula, after the fourth or fifth la leche freak came in and squished my swollen milk dripping breast into the face of a baby who was too pissed and too hungry to think about "latching on". 

The nurse brought me the bottle and told me I was wrong, that she wasn't hungry and that breast feeding is so natural and wonderful and that eventually she would never nurse if I gave her the bottle and thousands of annoying excuses as to why I was doing damage to MY child.  MY CHILD.

My child, who wasn't hungry according to the experts, pounded a 4 oz bottle of pre-mixed baby formula.  I got her home that day, and later in the afternoon after all the "experts" were thankfully out of MY LIFE and MY BUSINESS, I opened my shirt, cradled my sweet baby girl to my breast and watched her latch on and nurse.

That's why Mayor Bloomberg is an idiot.  No one has the right to tell any woman what she can and should be feeding her child.  No one, but that woman, should decide.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I feel like I've reverted to life as a 13 year old boy:  all I talk about and/or think about are BOOBS.  Not that there's anything WRONG with that (if you are IN FACT a 13 year old boy, I however am not). 

Ever since the surgery I've been calling my new/temporary girls Frankenboobs, because, well, that's what they look like, and one of them really still does which might pose a problem, though I don't know what just yet.

I was scheduled for my first post-op appointment with the plastic surgeon this week and starting on Sunday I was getting increasingly nervous about the condition of Frankenboob Right. 

Every day Frankenboob Left looked more and more normal (save for the Frankenstein-like stitches) and the right one looked more and more, well Frankenstein like in color WITH the stitches.  Seriously.

So Tuesday night I called the Dr.'s answering service, I was thinking maybe they wouldn't be able to "inflate" me this week.  If you know me, you KNOW that would not have gone over well.  I would have probably lost my shit IN THE OFFICE, plus the potential delay in my ability to run again about sent me over the edge in anticipation alone. 

Plus, it was just weird that one side looked good, the other side, not so much and so I totally panicked.  THE NIGHT BEFORE MY APPOINTMENT.  Really Amy?!

Here's where shit gets real, folks.  OMG.  The doctor called me back and I tell you what, I seriously felt about as big as the ants crawling around my kitchen.  He was literally grilling me about what I could have done to mess it up. 

It's hard to explain what a bruised and discolored boob looks like so you know what we had to do?!  I had to borrow Mark's iPhone, take pictures of my boobs and text them, yes TEXT THEM, to the doctor.  Thank GOD for HIPAA, that's all I'm saying. 

So yeah, I kind of sexted pics of my Frankenboob to the surgeon.  Soooo creepy and even Mark had to admit it wasn't even in the ballpark of a turn on.  This whole experience may have ruined boobs for him forever.

In defense of the doctor, I think he takes and ENORMOUS amount of pride in his work, so while these babies are attached to my body, he's got virtual ownership of them and I don't think he was too happy that I might have done something to mess with his masterpiece.  He called back after checking out my sexted pics and seemed to calm down. 

He wasn't sure what was going on, thought it might be a bruise, so no worries, but he asked me not to eat anything after 9am the next day in case I had to go back in to surgery. 

Panic much?  OMG and I was unable to even self medicate with booze, Tylenol PM or those Vicodin pills I stashed away (or any combination of the three).  What a night.

But I went to the plastic surgeon's office the next day and it seems like there was a plausible explanation for the bruising.  Leave it to me to have something happen that's never happened to ANY ONE OF HIS PATIENT,S EVER.  I didn't need surgery and I got my inflation.

So, the best way to describe inflation is this: remember that giant needle/syringe combo in Pulp Fiction?  That's about the size of what they put the saline in, and inject into the self sealing port on top of your boob.  And you FEEL NOTHING.  I swear.  NOTHING.  AT.  ALL.  So so so so so so so creepy!!!!!

And your boobs just sort of grow a little bit.  It wasn't too bad pain wise at first, as the day wore on I increased the amount of pain meds, but I never did take a Vicodin.  That's for wimps.  Or stubborn ass people like me that refuse to admit they probably need to take one. 

I woke up the next day feeling like I'd been bench pressing semi-trucks all night long so I did double up on Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  Super duper not fun.

I've already got more boobs than what I went in to surgery with, so I am kind of having the "beggars can't be choosers" mentality about the whole thing.  Because I had no breast tissue before, I seriously feel like Dolly Parton now, but to be fair, they aren't that big. YET.  Mark, and apparently the rest of the world, is thinking I should go big or go home.  He told me "play the hand you were dealt.  Why go for a pair when you can get four aces?"  I just love poker analogies.

So I have three to four more inflations scheduled, two more before I can go on my first VERY ginger and easy/soft run.  I'll be testing those B-cups out to see how they ride.  Then we'll go to Hawaii and after that I'll have these old things swapped out for the implants.  That is, assuming Frankenboob Right starts to look, well, right. 

Once we get closer to the official SWAP I'll put my naming poll up, I have SO MANY good suggestions for naming the Frankenboob Twins.  I.  Can't.  Wait. 

Love always,


Thursday, July 26, 2012


Every day, the kids have been at summer camp, for the second week in a row.  I've noticed a pattern of behavior that I feel compelled to warn you about.   Today's lesson is about their feeding patterns. 

If you parent children, or you're thinking about it someday, here's some terminology that I think might be useful for you to add to your repertoire:

Hungry:  That moment, five minutes after their morning bowl of cereal, which I might add you've already asked them THREE TIMES "are you sure you have enough to eat?", when they completely forget that they ever ate anything EVER in their whole entire lives and will waste away if you don't allow them to have a smoothie, which you have to make.  With no ingredients available whatsoever in your kitchen or the neighbor's fridge either, 'cause they're out of town and you can get in their house and you already checked the day before.

Angry:  That moment, one minute after the five minutes referenced above when the children hear the dreaded word of ALL DREADED WORDS: no.  Two teeny tiny letters with MASSIVE implications.  You can expect a rant, tantrum, a Marcia Clark-worthy argument for you to go to the store immediately, tears, and maybe even the silent treatment.  While rarely given, the silent treatment is the most preferred and treasured response to hearing the word NO, ever exhibited by a species known as childus ungratefulnus.

Hangry:  The second most dreaded combination of all TIME:  hungry and angry, this mood usually appears around 4pm daily when both mother and child are ready to sell each other on e-Bay.  Children are acutely aware that at this particular juncture in their day, you're more likely to allow them to eat things you normally wouldn't, if they're HANGRY enough.  There are varying levels of hangry, the lesser of which can be satisfied with a handful of dry cereal, but the hangrier the child the harder it is to satisfy the beast, and the less sugary, unhealthy, I'd-never-allow-my-child-to-eat-that-before-dinner snacks you have on hand, the more aggregious the offense.  BEWARE:  Hangry can stretch into hours of good family fun, and a pretty wicked-cool YouTube video, if not handled properly.

Hangired:  Last but not least, there's HANGIRED, which is THE SINGLE MOST HORRIFYING COMBINATION of Hungry/Angry/Tired.  If the child is not satisfied with the snack it received when it was hangry, and the longer it waits before dinner, they thus become HANGIRED and that's just a road you don't want to do down.  They child will throw every last weapon in their arsenal at you, with the exception of manipulative false politeness and calm.  Nope, they'll whine, complain, cry, bargain.  It's the four stages of acceptance that immediately following whatever food you can cram in their food hole they'll be going straight to bed.  And you'll be pouring yourself that drink.  Your mouth literally waters at the mere thought of that first sip of the most refreshing beverage ever created by man. 

Next lesson:  Sleep patterns, including their innate ability to wake up at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday morning, and their complete inability to get up at 7am on a Wednesday for school or camp.

Future lessons will also include chapters on their stall tactics (we'll focus on shoe-tying and teeth brushing) and many, many other exciting things that will help you better understand your offspring.  Cheers, it's five o'clock somewhere.  I think.  No, I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Still got it...but he probably forgot his contacts!

This is a true story, and I'm only sharing it because I think it's pretty funny.  I've been to the gym a few times since Saturday, and before you get all huffy puffy and indignant that I'm going against doctor's orders, know that I HAVE the green light to ride the spin bike and since my arms and chest are TOTALLY USELESS I haven't exercised ANYTHING above the waist, except my mouth, but even under anesthesia my mouth never stopped:

Apparently as I was being wheeled off to the operating room I tried to grab my phone out of Mark's pocket to play a "song" to get me keyed up for surgery.  I think mentally I was trying to make something familiar about an unfamiliar and scary situation so I pretended (I think) like this was a big race. 

I was begging him to play my all-time-favorite-get-amped-up song "Welcome to the Jungle" and he wasn't able to comply so I started singing "I'm Sexy and I Know It" instead.  Which is hilarious because I was wearing a hospital gown and green non-skid socks and not a damn thing more. 

As I usually do, I have totally digressed from the actual story I was going to tell you.  So at the gym the other day, mid-morning there's usually a smattering of folks of various levels of fitness. 

There's the steroid-shooting, loudly grunting, let me drop my pants and check my muscles in my skivvies dude (yes, this really happened), there are folks who are, well, likely retired, and many other people, I call them KIDS, who are probably home for the summer from college, who look barely old enough to drive a car legally, let alone hang out in a gym. 

On a rare occasion I'll even see guys in there in flip flops lifting weights.  FLIP.  FLOPS.  REALLY?!  Who does that?  I'm left to assume that this particular "gentleman" forgot his shoes, and likely in this case he must have also forgotten to put in his contacts. 

I was in the corner stretching out after an epic spin workout (30 minutes of barely moving and dripping with sweat was VERY annoying, but hey, I'm recovering from surgery so what do I expect?) and I could see Mr. Flip Flops looking over periodically. 

As I walked my sweaty, still post-surgery bloated ass out the door Mr. Flip Flops TOTALLY CHECKED ME OUT.    

That said, I am sure as soon as he saw my gray hair and wrinkles up close and personal he probably thought better of it, but I had to share because when all you've got is a pair of slightly and artificially inflated boobies to show off it does kind of feel good to know you've still got it.  From a VERY LENGTHY DISTANCE. 

Next time I see Mr. Flip Flops I suspect he'll have proper footwear and glasses.  Just in case.

Yeah, I'm sexy and I know it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How I Feel...

Have you ever avoided a head-on car collision?  You know that heart-pounding, life re-evaluating, ever-so-thankful-you-didn't-die feeling?  Times that by about 1000.  That's how I feel. 

Ever since I got the all-clear on July 19, my mind is reeling.  I am thankful, I am relieved, I am evaluating what I can do better as a person (and the list is long). 

And I ask myself a lot of what-ifs, like what if I hadn't scratched under my boob late that Sunday night? 

What if I hadn't shed nearly 50 lbs? 

What if my OB/GYN wouldn't have ordered a mammogram when I went in for my annual lube, oil & filter this summer because I wasn't 40 yet?

What if I hadn't eaten a lot of soy products and had an IUD?  What if I created the perfect storm for breast cancer?

Then I think about my good fortune and the thankfulness takes over.  I am thankful that I caught my breast cancer early, thankful that I got the BEST CARE POSSIBLE.  Thankful that I had the A-Team of Doctors and health care professionals.  Winnie the scheduler is officially my hero.  She's the MacGyver of all schedulers, who can make a hole in a surgical schedule appear out of nowhere, using nothing but determination and moxie.

Dr. Nathalie Johnson, my surgeon, who never treated me like a patient, but someone who needed to be treated like a person and didn't need clinical jargon.  God Bless her.  I'll miss her warm loving hugs.

And Margie Glissmeyer, the formidable oncologist who presented me with options for care, and only after I made my choice told me in such a way that I had made the right decision, without seeming judgemental about any of the choices or routes I could have taken.

And then the guilt sets in.  I know it seems so stupid to feel guilty that I have the best possible outcome you could want, save for not ever having had breast cancer.  But I have talked to a few other Survivors who had it way worse than I, and I feel like I'm cheating on my algebra quiz because I got off easy.

So many women out there I know personally had it a lot tougher, they got the full-meal deal: chemo, mastectomy, reconstruction, radiation, tamoxifen and all I had to do was order up a couple of items from the dollar menu and I'm fine.  It's good to be Catholic so you can really wallow in the guilt thing, eh?

And then I start thinking of what I can do better, now that I've cheated an early death by complete accident.  Yeah, top of the list is better wife, and better mother.  More time with my kids and husband.  Less time on the iPhone.  More time coloring pictures, playing games, kissing and hugging and so many other things.

And then I go right back to feeling like I just avoided that life-crushing head on collision.  One day, I want to just feel happy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Taming of the Tamoxifen Shrew

So many things have been going on over the past few weeks.  I'm not entirely sure how much most folks know about my prognosis as I was in a medicated coma for for a few days and I don't know what all I've divulged.  I still have a bit of anesthesia brain, I forget simple words and tasks while I work to reclaim what little sanity I had before this whole crazy train got rolling.

Basically, all I have is good news to share.  My cancer NEVER spread to my lymph nodes, the surgeon got it all and then some, and I don't have to endure chemotherapy.  I will say it until I'm blue in the face, EARLY DETECTION SAVED MY LIFE.

And I need to be brutally freaking honest in saying that I found my lump BY ACCIDENT.  And ONLY by the grace of God.  More on that in a later post.

The only lingering issues are completing my reconstruction.  My first "inflation" is this Wednesday and I can hardly wait!  I hope to have it done in time to have the new girls keeping me afloat in Hawaii at the end of August, but I'll be glad to be wherever I am.  Pinky swear.

And, in case you're wondering, we're going through all suggested names for the twins and will post the best of the best for voting purposes soon.

The only other lingering treatment is that I will take Tamoxifen for the next five years.  This little pill gives you menopausal symptoms while your body gets used to it.  Super fun.  But the real bonus is that five years from now I'll go back to "normal" and get to do menopause all over again.  So I'm considering the next five years a good training run.

But let's get back to discussing the Tamoxifen shrew.  Mark and I have named her Tami, and she's not welcome at most social gatherings, but tends to make an appearance at almost no notice whatsoever.  For example, the other day on the way to my check up to get my drains removed Mark took an innocent drink of my water.

I looked at him (I think my head spun around and pea soup may have dribbled out of my mouth) and said with a very satanic creepy voice "stop drinking my f-ing water."  This to a man who has BENT OVER BACKWARDS to support me and help me.  But Tami doesn't care.  Nope, she's just a cranky bitch.

We also took the kids to see the new Ice Age movie, and I'll be damned if Tami isn't also an emotional freaking train wreck.  She started crying and sniffling at the end of a cartoon movie, that wasn't even all that good to begin with.  Embarrassed much?  I need a t-shirt that says "please excuse my inappropriate emotional outbursts, I'm on Tamoxifen" that I can wear in public.  ALWAYS.

Tami also gets emotional about everything.  Talk to her about my cancer, your dog or that fungus on your toe they ain't identified yet and she'll get all weepy.  Take a sip of her water/coffee/wine and prepare to die.  Just sayin'.

The hot flashes, well they're precious.   I am always cold so I didn't think I'd be too bothered, but man oh man you'd think I saw The Rock the way I swoon and fan when those things come on.  Geesh.  And last night, well I got the night sweats.  Totally.  Freaking.  Awesome.  Covers on.  Covers off.  Covers on.  Covers off.  Fan on.  Fan off.  Fan on.  Fan off.  Covers.  Fan.  Covers.  Fan.  STOP THE INSANITY!

But let me tell you as much fun as all these symptoms are, I'll be thanking my lucky stars with every hot flash, mood swing and irrational thought over the next five years.  I got off easy.  I truly did.  Please, check your boobs or those of your wife/girlfriend regularly.  More women can have this amazingly positive outcome if we are diligent in noticing anything that doesn't belong.  And remember, if you see Tami the Tamoxifen Shrew, RUN THE OTHER WAY.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Catalina Matalina

I'm adding a new verse to one of my favorite camp songs, it is a fitting tribute to my new boobs as they settle in to my body and the swelling decreases:

Catalina Matalina Rubensteiner Wallendeiner Hogan Bogan Logan was her name.

She had two nipples on her chest,

One pointed East and the other pointed West.

Catalina Matalina Rubensteiner Wallendeiner Hogan Bogan Logan was her name.

Yeah, I'm sexy and I know it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Let The Names Begin

First of all, waking up in the hospital with BIGGER BOOBS than when I checked in was nothing short of a moment of glory.  Secondly, I found out that because of my cancer & reconstructive surgery I won't have to pay full price for a bra.  EVER.  AGAIN.  And I can buy the pretty ones too, according to the lady at the store, not just the geriatric boulder holders in skin color beige on the front rack.

As you have probably guessed I'm a glass half full kind of gal, always looking for that silver lining.  So finding out I could have the nice front porch I've always dreamed of, free bras and also not ever actually needing to wear one again, well that was a trifecta of awesomeness.

My reconstruction process has begun with "tissue expanders" where my new boobs will go eventually.  How it works is the plastic surgeon puts these pockets into your chest wall, behind the muscle.  There's usually some fluid already included in them (in my case a hell of a lot more than what the doctor carved out and sent to the lab!) and then you go in for regular appointments where they inject (think Pulp Fiction here) more fluid until they reach the "desired" appearance.   Is there a t-shirt out there that says "pardon our dust during reconstruction" right over the boob area?  I totally want one of those.....

So it's kind of like braces for your boobs.  You go in regularly to have your boobs blown up until they look straight.  Then the doctor will swap out the "tissue expanders" for the fake booby stuff and you're in and out in a day.  I was hoping to have the new girls on display in August when Mark and I head to Hawaii, but I may not be done.  It depends on how fast we can pump those babies up.

I've been given several name suggestions, and I certainly welcome more.  I'll start a poll here soon and together we'll name the girls.  Here's what I have so far:

Thelma & Louise
Laverne & Shirley
Sonny & Cher
Bill & Hillary (how appropriate to name boobs after boobs!)
Shaggy & Scooby
Jack & Jill
Left & Right
Georgia Dickover and Jennie Titus Smith Morris (tribute to my sorority heritage)

So please keep them coming, and they don't have to be pairs either.  I can't tell you enough how much your love and support has kept us all going, and heck, it even forced Mark to use Facebook.  Miracles do happen.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I'll be just fine

Here's the thing.  Learning you have cancer isn't the worst thing.  The worst thing is that lag time between finding out you have cancer and finding out how bad it is and what you need to do to treat it.  Your mind goes to some very dark places that you don't ever want to visit.  Once I got writer's block on my obituary I decided to call it a day however.

I am ever so thankful that the time difference was about 48 hours.  So I had two days to completely freak out.  I can't imagine a week or more, I probably would have lost my schmidt.  Well, I guess I kind of did, but I'm back now.  I'm back, baby!  And I'll be fine.

Another hard thing was telling the kids.  I figured my oldest child, who is 8, would probably have the toughest time, and the little guy would be like "cancer wha?" and then "where's my star wars action figure."

I got it pretty well spot on.  The oldest child gasped so hard when she heard the word "CANCER" that she sucked in the curtains.  But I used the word "booby" because I figured for a 6 and 8 year old, that would be the easiest and most understandable term to process.  Hindsight being what it is, probably should not have used THAT word, because I hear my daughter tell everyone and their dog that her mom has "booby cancer."  Oops.

As soon as I told them about my diagnosis I asked if they had any questions.  Oh indeed they did: when is dessert and what do we get?  I am thankful that they didn't totally freak out.  There isn't anything to worry about either, in my opinion.  I'll be fine.

Another thing that is interesting to me is how people in my life handle the news.  To be honest, I think it's easier for the person with the cancer than those who are on the outside looking in.  People keep telling me that they think I'm handling the whole situation really well and it is such a puzzle to me why I wouldn't handle it well.  I have a great prognosis and after Thursday I will likely be cancer free (and I get new boobs).  What's there to mope about? 

Honestly, this situation is just a big fat inconvenience to me.  It's ruined many of my summer plans.  I was supposed to go to Mexico with my BFF, I was going to do my first sprint triathlon, I was going to volunteer at girl scout camp for a week and run a 5K for the Be The Match Foundation's Portland run.  So if I'm upset about anything, it's the fact that I have to have some down time.  I could care less about the cancer.  It's getting in my way of all the schtuff I want to do.  THAT'S what pisses me off.  But I know I will be fine.

I can't lie though, I am scared.  I'm scared about the surgery.  I'm scared that they might find cancer in my lymph nodes.  I'm scared about being completely unconscious for four hours while my chest gets carved out.  I can't even find a way to joke about how scared I am.  That's how scared I am.

No matter what, I'll meet this challenge head on, like anyone else would do.  I'll face up to it, stare it down and crush it.  And I'll be just fine.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I am that one...

I've heard many statistics this past week, one in four, one in eight, or one in ten women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Or 1 in 5 biopsy's come back positive for cancer.  That was my favorite to hold on to, even if only for a day.  But those numbers mean nothing to me, because I am THAT ONE. 

Yes, indeed, I found out Wednesday June 26, 2012 at 10:30am PST that I have breast cancer.  Now before you snort coffee out of your nose or pee your pants or something TOTALLY UNNECESSARY, read the following:  I AM ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES.  I CAUGHT IT EARLY.  I AM STAGE ONE.  I WILL BE OK.

Well, I'll be MORE than OK, but more on that later.  I believe that this is the appropriate time for me to insert my public service announcement:  CHECK YOUR BOOBS ladies.  Check them, or have your husband do it.  Hell, it might be more fun that way.  Light a candle, get some wine and let him have at it.  Maybe read a little Fifty Shades of Gray before he gets started, whatever it takes, just DO IT.  And by do it, I mean rub your boobs up LAYING DOWN to make sure you don't feel anything weird, or what felt to me like a pencil eraser trapped in my boob.

Go to the Komen website for great tips on checking them, and for the LOVE of GOD if you're 40 go get a mammo.  I have almost NO BREAST TISSUE on my body and I survived.  If I can take it so can you.  If you've ever given birth, this will seem like a walk in the freaking park.  Just sayin'.  Git-er-dun. 

I also would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that (this is for those of you that don't know me or see me EVER) I've lost nearly 50 lbs since November ON PURPOSE and in all honestly I'd NEVER have found my lump if I hadn't lost all that weight and four months from now on my 40th birthday I would be writing an entirely different ending to this story.  Please, if you need to, get healthy.  It might just save your life.

Cancer.  Holy shit batman, that was a shocker, to be honest.  Who thinks they'll get cancer?  Show of hands?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  So it's a little speed bump on the road of life.  That's what I keep saying. Granted, I can say that now that I'm through the worst of it, the "not knowing anything but knowing I've been diagnosed" stage was the worst.

Your mind does some really funny shit to you too.  I was all prepped to start a profile for Mark on, you know so I could meet his future wife and make sure she was good with the kids.  Not awkward at all.  Not.  At.  All.  I also planned my funeral, which was not a funeral but a party instead.  No moping around for this broad.  And I even panicked thinking I had better get my house clean.  And SOON.

I don't mean to make light of my situation either, breast cancer, or cancer of any kind is serious business.  But humor is my coping mechanism (now that booze isn't a dietary staple for me) so bear with me my while I crack as many boob jokes as I possibly can.  That's how I roll.

To be honest though, I am not really excited about all the stuff that has to happen between now and recovery.  If there was a shortcut from A to Z, I would take it.  The labs and tests alone have been nonstop.  At this point, I've been poked more times than a porn star.  That said, hopefully the information flowing in continues to be good news.  I mean as good as you can get when you have cancer.

I was given a few different options for treatment.  In a way you're damned if you do, damned if you do so I'm going to be BRUTALLY honest about what I am doing and why.  And you'd better not judge me.  Sit in my shoes for a week and see what choice YOU make.  On July 12, 2012, I will undergo a bilateral mastectomy and start the process for breast reconstruction.  This way I can avoid 6 weeks of radiation and almost completely eliminate the chance that cancer will come back.  I would have likely opted for a lumpectomy, but they found another suspicious area in my left breast and rather than fart around with it, I'll just take my peace of mind thank you very much.  And a sweet new rack.  Even better.

I met with the plastic surgeon today and have never felt more awkward than I did when he literally played Tune In Toyko with what's left of my breast tissue.  I looked at Mark and laughed like a 13 year old boy.  OMG.  If you know me well, you know I'm hard to embarrass.  I say what I think, I have no filter and I rarely feel shame.  But wowzers, I wanted to tell the guy he should at least take me to dinner before jumping to second base.  I'm not THAT easy.  OK well maybe I am after a bottle of wine, but folks I was stone cold sober and there was no warm up.  I don't even know his first name for Pete's sake. Not that it would have mattered 20 years ago.  Ahem. 

I do have the best plastic surgeon in the area and THE BEST breast surgeon, I know I'm in very good hands.  Even the nurse at the plastic surgeon's office was amazing.  Of course I think she is totally freaking amazing because she said to me: "You must be a runner."  I was in heaven.  Of course I don't consider myself a runner, I just simply run, but to hear those words, well it was music to my ears!  It was my blood pressure that tipped her off, not my sleek running physique.  Ha ha ha.

So really the bad news is that I have cancer.  Everything else is good.  I caught it early, it is hormone receptive so can easily be treated, it is "tiny" (according to my Dr. and I LOOOOVE her for that) and I'll be totally fine.  And I'll have a nice new pair of tits.  Which will take some time, but that is a blog post for another time.  Believe me, I'll have a LOT to talk about.  I promise not to be all about boobs and cancer and stuff, but I have to be honest:  boob jokes freaking RULE and I'll make as many as I can.  I deserve the opportunity, do I not?

And don't be offended when I tell you that I plan to name the new boobs.  Of course they will be "the girls" but they deserve a proper name.  There will be a blog poll for that VERY soon.  Stay tuned. 

In the meantime, please remember this:  one in four, one in eight, or one in ten women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  I am THAT ONE.  And I'll be a Survivor, too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Epic Adventure Part 3: The Heat is On

I realized in reading through my previous two posts (I always do to be sure I correct any weird errors which I always find) and I noticed that I totally missed some high (and low) lights of our first two running adventures.

Being in Van 2 meant that even though we got to enjoy a nice hot breakfast, get sunburned before leaving Beaverton and taste some fine wine along the way, we ALSO had to be running in the heat of the afternoon.  Our first runner was unfortunately our guinea pig, the poor thing.  We sent her off in the hot sun for a looooong leg with no water and a promise to "check in with her" partway through the race. 

We hung around the exchange for a bit, and then thought we should get to the halfway point.  Our poor runner was literally panting like a black dog on a porch in the south on the hottest and most humid day of the summer.  If her tongue could hang out it totally would have.  We gave her some water and set her off again.  She was our guinea pig for EVERY leg, we experimented on her like a little lab rat and always fine tuned our approach for the remaining 5 runners in our van.  We owe her.  BIG time.

We got a lot better at stopping more regularly for our runners after that.  Well, until we got to my neighbor!  We found a place to get more ice and kleenex, as whatever the kind of grass is in freaking Nowhere, Oregon, most of our van were experiencing an allergic reaction in totally different ways.  Me, I just sneezed and blew my weight in snot, running through what little kleenex we had.  But I digress. 

We filled the water jug with ice, we're hanging out all cool, chatting with another van feeling all that and a bag of chips 'cause we're in the shade and then CRAP!  There's our runner looking at us like we're the WORST PEOPLE IN THE FREAKING WORLD, and I couldn't really blame her.  She ran so much faster than we expected so we weren't ready with water for her.  Well, that's what we told her and we're sticking to that story.   Needless to say after that we were sure to have water at the ready on each of her other legs.

Our middle of the night legs were also amazing.  There's something peaceful and zen-like about running in the dark, I can't explain it.  You don't see a lot of the scenery, so it's trail by braille mostly, but the cool night air washing over you as you pound the pavement for mile upon mile is the most refreshing feeling.

I was the last leg and the sun started coming up which was incredible.  I was able to see so many things like the creepy drunk dude trying to take my spot in the van, the Willamette River below the bridge I ran on that freaked my shit right out, and the cemetery I ran by (my second reference to death after the Hearse I ran past on my first run).  I remember thinking "is the universe trying to tell me something?"

My favorite part though was running in to the high school for the next exchange, with my iPhone iTunes on FULL BLAST playing Guns N Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" as I passed a row of sleeping runners.  My phone was on speaker (I was not willing to wear headphones in the middle of the night) and I cranked it up and thought "wake up SUCKERS!" as I breezed past them to the exchange point.  Payback for them earlier in the evening.  Just sayin'.

My neighbor, we called her the energizer bunny, as our team captain was pretty amazing.  That woman can run (literally and figuratively) on almost NO SLEEP.  When we all thought we had another 34.21 minutes to sleep there she was rolling her sleeping bag up and filling out paperwork in the van.  We grabbed some decent breakfast and coffee and set off to the final exchange point for some stretching and rest.

I will say this.  If you are ever in charge of a relay race, please do me this one favor:  Have more than three Honey Buckets at the major exchanges and buy COSTCO SIZE TOILET PAPER PACKAGES SO YOU DON'T RUN OUT.  Many runners, like myself, have nervous colons and there's nothing worse than waiting in line to "make a deposit" and realizing there's no TP.  Nuff said.

Once again we ran in the heat of the day, and my final leg was no exception.  Along the way I ran through someone's yard sprinkler (OMG it felt so good I almost needed a smoke), a crematorium (reference #3 to death making me think I may not make it...) and the big ass duck pond that I ran through at the end.  I really did, ran in up to my thighs and these people were like "do you need help?!" and I said "nope, did it on purpose, but thanks!" and kept on going.  My shoes weighed about 20lbs each for the final 400M but it was worth the few extra seconds added on to my time. 

Running across the finish line with 11 amazing women runners with me was by far one of the coolest moments in my life, aside from marrying Mark and having my babies.  I started running again on December 20, 2011 and to finish the relay as the anchor leg was amazing for me.  Truly epic.  There's no other word.

And I thank God for my legs, good shoes and many roads ahead.  I'll need them, as I am prepared to face another epic challenge in my life.  I'll post about that tomorrow, so stay tuned. 

I want to thank my husband for supporting me in all my hair brained ideas (like running for example) and my children for putting up with my sweaty ass hugging and kissing them when I get home.  I also want to thank my neighbor and good friend Cyndie Burke Pelto, without you I wouldn't have taken on such a challenge and I certainly wouldn't have survived the craps without you force feeding me that damn banana.  Cheers to you my friend, you inspire me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Epic Adventure Part 2: The Scoop on Poop

Throw 6 women nearing the end of their 30's in a van for 30 hours to run a relay on little to no sleep, you have to know that there are certain topics that come up.  I am sorry to report to the likely one male reader I have: sex, penis size and how awesome you are did not come up in the conversation.  EVER.  But we talked a lot about poop.  And poop related issues.  And gas.  Must not forget the gas.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Once we reached our sleep station, the 6 of us laid down in a cold football field to get a little shut-eye, 3 hours or less.  I am, and continue to be, blessed with the uncanny ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  On command.  As Mark says, you'd think I'm borderline narcoleptic.  I would be about the only human in our van with that ability.  I believe I woke myself up snoring at one point, which likely only irritated my non-sleeping teammates.

The only trouble with sleeping for me was the giant stomach cramps I was feeling, mostly because I prematurely stuffed my foodhole with spicy chicken tacos mere moments after completing a 5.5 mile run in blistering heat. So my ability to sleep on command was both a blessing and a curse as everytime I woke up to feeling like I had to pass gas I feared it because I was positive I would simply shart.  For those of you not "up" on the term, a shart is a cross between a liquid shit and a giant fart.  There you go.  Thankfully there was no sharting in my sleeping bag (though I did have to air it out considerably!).

I had a decent rest, compared to the other five ladies in my van, one of whom had literally fallen asleep about 15 minutes before we woke her up to run, and man did we have to hustle as our teammate from Van 1 decided to run sub 8 miles in the middle of the freaking night and thus was about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.  Fine by me, I was already awake trying not to crap my pants, but our poor runner was tired.  I am not entirely sure she woke up until mile 3, we literally dressed her, clipped on her blinky lights and sent her running with almost no time for her to wake up.

The middle of the night runs were awesome, and by runs I mean actually feet hitting the pavement, not the "runs" to the lovely and poorly named "honey buckets" that I endured for most of the night until my neighbor and team captain forced me to eat a banana. If you know me, you know that I have to GAG a banana down, I hate them that much.  GAG.  Ack.  Barf.  But with the promise that it would settle my stomach so I could run, I went for it.  THANK GOD IT WORKED.

That said, most of the night we spent talking about poop and farts, the occasional hemmorhoid story and well generally discussed things that would make most any polite human blush.  A polite human UNLESS they were running a relay, in the middle of the night, a teammate has the bends and you've had ZERO sleep.

It was on this part of the journey that I tried the "love stick".  Oh the joys of the love stick.  The love stick is the single greatest invention for muscle recovery.  If you've ever heard the expression "hurts so good" that would describe how you feel about the love stick.  It's this thing with handles on either end, with little rollers all the way down the middle.  Pure.  Awesome.  That's all I can say.  If not for the love stick and the sprayable biofreeze I likely would not have been walking at the end of leg 36.

But instead I rolled the CRAP out of my left thigh and ass (sorry ladies, you might not have known that part, thank GOD for clorox wipes) and I ran a significantly faster pace on leg 2 that I was predicted to run, or that I usually run, I'm just sayin'.  All that after being doubled over in pain for most of the night.  I was feeling pretty awesome, but not so awesome that I couldn't settle in for a couple more hours of sleep in yet another high school grassy area in the middle of Oregon somewhere.

All in all the middle of the night legs were really amazing, and I am so glad we had that part of the relay because the lest 6 legs were miserably hot and I think some of us may not have made it if not for squirt guns and frequent water stops.  Stay tuned.....