Friday, June 26, 2009

Do you remember the first Michael Jackson song you ever heard?

I was about 9 when I heard the song Rock With You  from his Off the Wall album.  I remember being in the kitchen with my mom and her friend as they were getting ready to go out.  I wished I could go with them.  I didn't want to stay home with my drunk father who was passed out sleeping upstairs.  But the girls were having a nite out on the town.  Whenever I hear that song I am returned to that moment in my childhood be it good or bad.  Music has always been that for me.  Kind of  like a touchstone to my history.
A much better memory comes to mind with the first MJ album I bought with a few bucks I saved.  I was 13 and Thriller had just come out.  The best of the best in my opinion.  Beat It was the sh** back then.  I had just gotten my first boom box with a tape deck.  All the kids had them but mostly boys who walked down the street with it on their shoulder and base pumping.  It was a cool spring nite and my friend Lisa and I were outside testing out my new box.  I was giddy with excitement.  As I pressed the play button that was the size of a piece of bazooka gum and heard the beat start I grabbed the silver handle.   Lisa and I proceeded to strut down the block and around the corner with MJ's Beat It blasting.  We thought we were so dam cool.  Just us, the music, under the streetlights.  I don't remember how many times we circled the development of townhouses where we both lived.  I think until my mom came out and yelled to me it was time to come in.  It is one of the few memories I have of feeling carefree in my childhood.  

My husband and I were in the car yesterday when we heard the news on the radio.  I turned the volume up in disbelief.  Then I got chills and tears in my eyes.  Its not like I knew the guy or anything so I wondered why the tears?  As I drove on I thought about that moment on that street with my beat box blasting MJ.  It felt as though a part of my growing up was taken away. 

My heart goes out to his friends and family as well to those of Farrah and lest not forget Ed.  Wow, what a week...

Do you remember the first MJ song you heard?  Was it a good memory?  Does music jostle you memory?  When icons like this die how do you feel?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Twentysomethings...Miss Being One??

I am going to age myself with this post but here goes!  As I approach my 40th birthday next month (did I just say that?!)  I can't help but reflect on my life, ponder years gone by.  A new decade is upon me.  It is both exciting and scary at the same time.  Having had cancer at 31, I was just ecstatic to see 32!.  Now I feel proud and excited to be staring 40 in the face.

I was watching the SATC Movie, for the upteenth time, the other nite and it got me to thinking about my 20's.  As I watched the opening scene where Carrie is strutting down a NYC street and passes by a four pack of twentysomething girls who appear to be mirror images of the famous foursome way back when I thought about how I wouldn't want to be in my 20's anymore.  

Despite the fact that I was widowed at 25 which I felt like nearly ruined me, what I thought about was how I felt inside as far as knowing who I was.  I had no freakin clue!  Even before I was married, before the accident took everything away from me.  I had just graduated from OT school, started my career and was engaged.  I was so in love, and so happy to be starting my life.  A life away from my parents to one with Paul.  But inside there was alot of self doubt, poor self esteem, and fear.  I had no idea where life would take me.  I hadn't yet connected with my true self.  

Today I feel like I am doing what I have always been meant to do.  Being a writer and having the opportunity to share my story are what I feel excited about doing.  I have more clarity these days, I take better care of myself,  I enjoy more of the quiet moments.  Although I have to say that I do miss going out clubbing in NYC, staying out till 5am, and sleeping most of the following day away recovering.  I enjoyed much more of a nitelife back then in my single days.  I still love music and dancing but today it is mostly done in my own living room with my dog watching me as I dance from one end of the room to the other....basking in the moment.

Do you miss your 20's?  If you could turn back the clock would you ever go back?  What do you like more about yourself now?  What do you feel has shaped you into who you are today?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Hair Thing

On  SATC when Samantha was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced losing her hair she went wig shopping. As she sat in the chair trying on a few wigs, disliking most of them, she told the wig guy "my hair is my thing"  And isn't that so true.  I know it was for me.

I had a harder time losing my hair during chemo than losing my boob.  I hated wearing a wig and I didn't have the balls to rock the bald head.  Samantha had fun with wigs ranging in style from L'il Kim, to blond bombshell and even Foxy Brown.  She rocked them all.  I hated wearing mine and yet wouldn't leave the house without it.  Ironically though I received more compliments on my wig than I had on my real hair!  

I often wonder why hair is such a huge deal.  Especially for women.  Maybe because it is a part of our sexuality, a form of expression, and sometimes it is something we can hide behind.  And of course there is the belief that men love long hair.  I recently watched one of those makeover shows and the woman didn't care about the clothes they put her in or the makeup they put on her face.  Hell, they could've put warpaint on her face and she didn't seem to care.  But having her hair cut off short sent tears streaming down her cheeks within seconds.  The followup at the end of the episode showed her getting extensions.  Apparently a life without long hair was one she couldn't handle.  

I too have cried over a bad haircut and a bad color job until I was bald.  Now there's a bad hair day!  So I can't help but get mad at myself today if  I complain about my hair.  I certainly am much better about it and really don't shed tears over a bad haircut anymore.  I guess sometimes I feel like being a cancer survivor instantly revokes my right to sweat the small stuff at times.  

How did you handle the hair thing during your treatment?  Did you wig out or rock the bald head?  Did losing your hair make you appreciate it all the more when it grew back?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grilled Cheese Please!

What is it about white bread, cheese and butter that makes it so dam good?  As a child it was one of my favorite's and then when I was obsessed with my weight I tried to stay away.  And then I got cancer.  My chemo treatments affected alot of things especially my appetite.  I had a constant taste of metal in my mouth.  I had mouth sores and furry tongue.  Anything I ate tasted like metal.  There wasn't much I enjoyed eating.  The constant nausea I had didn't help either.

So I steered myself directly for comfort food.  Doesn't that always include cheese in so way shape or form?  Grilled cheese sandwiches were one of the few things that tasted good to me and I enjoyed eating it.  And there was also mac and cheese.  Not just any mac and cheese though, it had to be kraft in the blue box with that pouch of gooey cheese you poured on the macaroni.   Yeah, very unhealthy of me I know.  But I had cancer and thought I was gonna die so I wasn't afraid to eat whatever I wanted. I was angry that my mouth was so messed up and I could barely enjoy food.  

Comfort food does just that, provide comfort.  I was searching for comfort everywhere during my cancer treatment and it was really tough to find any.  I did find some in the form of cheese though!  

What is your favorite comfort food?  During your treatment did you loose your appetite or have changes in your ability to taste?  How did you deal? 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's Talk About Sex Baby!

Back in the day this was one of my favorite songs.  As I sang along I thought about how the words were something I felt bad about saying.  Sex was a subject that I was never comfortable talking about.  And certainly not in my late teens and early 20's.  In my book I discuss the issues I had with sex and how I missed out on a wonderful moment with my first husband by never consummating our marriage because I was so fearful and was bound down by hangups! Pretty crazy huh?  

If I thought I had trouble then fast forward to a breast cancer diagnosis at 31.  Now I would loose my breast gain some scars and loose a part of my sexuality along with my hair.  All the things that made me feel sexy were being taken away.  I was single and dating wondering how I was going to share all of that with a guy.  I wondered if I would ever find anyone who would accept all of that.  I wondered if I would ever feel sexy again.  

As I wrestled with these issues as a young cancer survivor I was all alone.  I had no other people my age to discuss it with and my doctors certainly weren't raising the topic with me.  Thankfully things are different now with organizations like i[2]y that connect and unite young people with cancer.  I only wish they were around 8  years ago when I was navigating the single scene sans a boob and hair!  

The Stupid Cancer Show is an online radio show with a live chat room where topics like sex and cancer  are brought to the forefront.  Last nite the show topic was just that!  And it was great!  So if you are a young cancer survivor married or single struggling with issues like sexuality and intimacy check out the podcast!  And make sure you tune in every Monday nite at 9pm EST to the show.  It is not to be missed!

How did you deal with sexuality and intimacy during cancer?  Did you reach out and find someone to discuss it with?  Did you  have hangups with regards sex before cancer?

Friday, June 5, 2009

What's On Your Ipod?

After the somberness of my last post I wanted to write something fun.  I just ordered tickets to an upcoming Journey concert in the fall YAY!  And now I am all about classic Journey tunes on my ipod today.  It got me to thinking about the role music has played in my life.  

I remember the first Journey album I bought.  It was the Escape album circa 1981.  I was 12 and "Don't Stop Believin"  was my fav song at the time.  My friends and I used to blast it from our boxes we carried while strutting down the street.  Can I just say how old I feel right now!    Anyway, I remember how happy I felt listening to that song and belting out the words.  It was like an escape for me, no pun intended.  At that age, it was a way for me to drown out the sounds of my parents screaming and my father's drunken noise.  I could tune out the world.  Even as I watched that last scene in the Soprano's finale with that song playing I got chills.  

As I got older music became a connection to boys I liked, falling in love the first time with Paul, and just plain ol' good times with friends.  It helped to drown out the sadness I felt at times.  In my adulthood music could also evoke tears as I began to loose those close to me.  But at the same time  I couldn't help but smile and feel as though that person was brought a little closer around me.  And when Lou and I got married our gift to the guests at our wedding was a CD I put together of our favorite love songs.  

Listening to music has also inspired my writing.  Sometimes when I am feeling that writer's block blasting some tunes helps the words to come out.  I don't listen often enough these days.  It is something I want to bring back to the forefront of my days.  It releases my creativity and lessens my anxiety which I am feeling way to much of lately.  

So.... what is playing on your ipod today?  What are some favorite songs that have brought you  good times?  What role has music played in your life?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Anniversary in Heaven

The alarm went off this morning and I hit the snooze way too many times.  As I finally sat up I looked at the clock and realized it was 6:30.  Then I remembered that was the exact time the phone rang last year.  The call that let me know my father had died.

As I look at this picture I think of innocence.  I think of beginnings.  I think about how it was one of the few times my father ever looked happy.  And I don't even remember it.  This was my first Christmas.  The year was 1969. I must have been about 6 months old and my dad was only 21.  So young to be a father.  Unfortunately he was already a well established alcoholic.

I realized at the end that he did the best he could.  Our relationship was strained to say the least.  It was very difficult to get along with him.  He was not a happy man.  I learned to forgive although I wish it had happened sooner.  I waited till it was almost too late.  The last time I saw him was last April for his 60th birthday.  I hadn't seen him in a year since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I was grateful he invited me over to see him that day.  That was something he never did.  I almost didn't go.  

He said "Next time I will be a better dad."
"You did the best you could."  I replied.
He said "No, I did what was best for me."

As the tears began to roll down my cheeks I thought about how I wished this conversation had come along years earlier.  When he walked over to me I knew it would be goodbye.  He put his arms around me and I cringed at how broken his thin body felt.  I heard him whisper "I love my little girl.".  I cried as I thought about how this was something he never said and wished he didn't wait till it was too late.  Although he didn't say it in his own way he showed me at the worst times of my life.  He was with me when my husband died, he was with me when I was told I had cancer.  Somehow when the chips were down in my life he pushed his way back in to be there for me.  I didn't appreciate it at the time.  

I thought he could be ok even with a cancer diagnosis.  I was ok, I survived.  I wanted him to survive too.  This loss is tough for me both as a daughter and as a cancer survivor.   I feel guilty sometimes that I am still here.  

Even though I think of him often but on days such as this it always seems harder.  I wonder if it is because it transports us back to the realness of that day, of that moment we got the news we never wanted to hear...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Anniversaries, Cancerversaries, and Inspiration

I started a great 4 day weekend Thursday nite at my first book signing in NYC at the B&N Greenwich Village. Fabulous event!  I was very excited to share my story, read from my book, and meet some great new people!  And even saw an old friend I hadn't seen in 20 years.  Hopefully I inspired those that graciously came out to listen to me speak.  

The weather here in NY was great the whole weekend.  My husband and I took the pug and went to a nearby walktrail, so peaceful and fun. And on Saturday nite from 8-12pm AOL ran a recent interview I did for AOL Health!  I discussed my book, what it was like being a 25 year old widow and then diagnosed with cancer at 31.  And of course how I found love again!  If  you missed it you can check out the interview here.

 On Sunday we celebrated our 6th anniversary and my 8th year as a cancer survivor!  We just spent a quiet day together at home and enjoyed the great weather, got outside for awhile and then I cooked dinner at home.  But strangely all day I felt as though I should be doing something more.  A bigger celebration, going somewhere, being more fancy.  Even though I was perfectly content with a quiet day.  Just being with him was nice. Cause isn't it just about the moments?   I don't know why I felt an empty spot or a nagging to do something more.  

How do you celebrate special days?  If you celebrate quietly do you ever feel as if it is not enough?