Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flowers From A Stranger

This morning I headed to my local Trader Joe's for groceries.  While I was waiting at in line at the checkout a man cut in front of me.  I was startled but I am not one to make a fuss.  Something like that is certainly not worth getting upset about.  So I kept quiet and patiently waited till it was my turn.  

As I was packing my bags the cashier from the next lane over quickly showed up next to me with a bouquet of flowers.  I have to say I was startled.  
"These are for you free of charge for being so patient with that."  he said with a smile.  
"Awwww, thank you so much."  I responded wondering for a second what he was referring to.  I paused for a moment and realized that he must have meant the guy who cut in line. 

 I smiled to myself and thought about how I haven't gotten flowers in a long time.  I thought about how this was the first time I was ever acknowledged by or received flowers from a stranger.  It was a very sweet gesture and so unexpected.  Aren't those the best kind?

When I arrived home I enjoyed spending time cutting and arranging.   I couldn't help but break out my camera.  Now I am thinking that I need to buy some flowers for myself on occasion!

Has a stranger ever done something thoughtful for you?  How did it make you feel?  Have you ever done something for someone you didn't know?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bra Zero

I remember when bra shopping was fun. I remember when it made me feel sexy. I remember when it became a chore.

That happened when I lost my boob. And although they built me a brand spankin new one I was now lopsided. Yeah, I know they say that all women have one boob smaller/larger than the other but still. Like it wasn’t already hard enough to be a girl.

It seemed as though once I lost my boob Victoria’s Secret catalogs showed up everywhere I turned. That those dam bra commercials were on some crazy rotation on every channel I surfed through. Don’t even get me started on shopping in that store or any for that matter. I swear I must have tried on every bra known to man. Every brand, every size, every type. One thing I have realized… I live in an underwire world. All I wanted was a bra without wire. I had no clue it would be near impossible. And if I did in fact hit the bra lotto happening to stumble upon one you could be sure it wasn’t a pretty, girly, one.

Now, back in the day I was a big fan of underwire. It was all I wore. I found it pretty comfortable until I tried to shove a newly reconstructed boob into one. My plastic surgeon practically dared me to try it. I laughed wondering “how hard could it be?” I had done it before right? Well, I was in a for a rude awakening. Initially I had settled into the sporty type, which I must admit were sooo comfortable but quite unflattering. I found I had traded the lopsidedness for flatchested and bound. So I lived in those for quite a while as I became increasingly pissed off at my inability to find myself a nice girly bra. Each time I looked in the mirror at my scars, and a newly built headlight that was forever “on” I wondered why it had to be so dam hard to find something to at least make me look nice from the outside….something to hide all that and still make me feel pretty. Sexy even.

As I stroll through VS now I look around at all these tweens doing their own bra shopping wondering how could it be possible that at such a young age it warrants sexy lacy underwire bra’s? You know…the ones I can no longer wear in my 30’s. I remember being that age having my mom pretty much pick those out for me, not that there was much of a selection back then where we shopped. Jealous much?! Not only was I feeling unattractive and ugly, I was feeling dam old!

Where I was heading with all this is that I FINALLY found a one! And it fit all my requirements with a bonus. No wire, with padding (to cover the headlight that never shuts off) and drumroll please……LACE!! I wanted to cry I was so happy. Thank You Calvin Klein!

But you know what happens next right? It is sure to be discontinued! LOL

This was originally posted in May of '08.  As I am in full on bra shopping mode I thought I would share once again!  

As a breast cancer survivor do you have difficulty with bra shopping?  Have you been successful?  Do you find that you feel jealous when you see women shopping in VS without a thought to what will fit?  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What Calms You??

I took this picture over the weekend.  The weather was so beautiful with windows to the fall. All I had to do was walk across the street from our house and it was like I went to another world.  

Whether it is the ocean or a lake, water has always had a calming effect on me.  I love to just sit and look out at the endless blue and listen to waves hitting against the shore.  Even the little sound of water rippling against the rocks takes me out of my funk.  

That is what I needed yesterday.  I woke up with a headache, feeling crummy and spent most of my day inside on the couch waiting for the pain to subside and the cloudy feeling go away.  It was so nice outside I was mad to be missing it.  It makes me anxious.  It reminds me of when I had cancer.  All the days and nights spent on the couch in pain, crying, alone.  Somehow it takes me right back to that bad place.  I don't know how that happens.  Its there without warning.  And having a headache certainly is no comparison to my cancer sickness thankfully.  I guess it is like those associated reactions I blogged about a few weeks ago.  

The most important thing for me when I feel like that is figuring out how to get myself to a better place.  Maybe not while I am in pain but certainly when it subsides.  So that is what I did.  Although I had missed most of the day by the time my head quit pounding I looked out the window took a deep breath of the fresh air and put on my sneaks.  It was a short walk down the the reservoir.  As I listened to my feet crunching on the stones that carried me to the shoreline I could feel a sense of calm I hadn't felt all day.  There was a slight breeze and I could hear the waves gently lapping against shore.  I stood there for a good 20 minutes and almost forgot where I was.  The sounds of cars whooshing by on the road were gone for a few moments.  I wished I could stay there forever.  To have a sense of calm such as that to carry me through difficult days.  It's no wonder I always return to the water in times of stress.  I just wish I could feel that way in my own head sometimes on my own...

What calms you?  How do you handle stress?  What do you do when you need to get away from the voices in your head?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fashion and Cancer

Today in honor of fashion week I am over at Cancer Directory blogging about how I feel fashion can enhance our lives especially during tough times.   

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Monday, September 14, 2009

That Was Then. . .

As I looked at her sitting in a wheelchair, her body broken from illness, silver curls atop her head, I could see the life still hidden behind her eyes.  She could not speak.  Her metal rimmed glasses hid pretty blue eyes that had no doubt seen many things over the years.

I wheeled her into her room which was decorated with photos of family and friends sharing a life well lived.  The smell of alcohol and sickness permeated the space.   I stared at the black and white collage dancing on the wall.  I looked back at her.  She was watching and wondering.  I asked her if I could look at the pictures.  The widening of her baby blues was her only response.  

And there it was...a wedding photo of her in a striking long white dress made of lace with short cap sleeves and a cathedral length veil adorned with mini white flowers.  Her hair was long and dark brown with cascading curls falling upon her shoulders.  A dark shade of lipstick outlined her smile.   A large bouquet of pale colored roses she held in her hand.  I asked her if that was her and she faintly nodded her head.  I told her it was beautiful.  Then I saw a tear starting to escape from the corner of her eye.  

I couldn't help but wonder what was going through her mind at that moment.  I wondered if she felt trapped in that body.  I wondered if she always felt sad.  As I looked at her trying to console her I thought about how each of us is headed to a similar fate.  We will all get older and with any luck be around when we are old and gray.  It reminded me of how much I need to enjoy the moments I have now when my mind and body are well.  I hated telling her I had  to go.  And when I stepped out the door of her room and looked back at her I was the one wiping away a tear...

 Do you ever ponder the future or  live in the moment?  Have you ever had a similar experience where an elder has taught you something in a brief moment of interaction?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Juicer Is Dusty. . .

I remember when my mom used to try to get me to eat veggies.  I hated them.  Hated anything green.  I wouldn't even eat salad.  I was the one out to dinner declining the salad that came with my entree.  I never drank water.  Only high sugar fruit drinks, soda and then during my teen and young adult years it was diet soda or as I refer to it now...brown water with chemicals.  My diet consisted of processed foods, no veggies, and mostly crap.  Much of nothin!  It is no wonder that I was always feeling sick, always coming down with something.  I worked in a hospital and was exposed to germs on a daily basis.  I started missing the fact that I couldn't fight anything off for very long.  

Then came a cancer diagnosis.  Then my world turned upside down.  Since going through cancer treatment I have changed my diet in many ways.  After treatment was over I was figuring out how to get back to life after cancer.  Changing my nutrition was one of the lifestyle changes I made during that time.  It also became my way of trying to control the fear.  Fear of recurrence became a daily experience.  It was worse in the beginning but I still live with it today, 8 years later.  

With the help of a holistic doc I was encouraged to try juicing.  I began drinking mostly water, started eating veggies and consuming less processed foods.  I was trying to avoid ingesting chemicals.  Of course I was no angel.  I was doing everything in moderation trying not to obsess.  Once I started juicing 6 years ago I started to enjoy it.  I began with apples and carrots because they fed my sweet tooth.  Then I slowly introduced the greens.  Cucumbers and celery were about as far as I went until I tried kale.  

What I didn't realize though was my obsession.  I used the juicer every single day and if I missed a day I would get really crabby.  And then I would worry.  It got to the point that I felt as if the juicing was keeping me alive somehow.  Like if I stopped my cancer would instantly come back.  I never realized how deep the fear went.

4 months ago I stopped juicing.  I don't even know why. I think I just wanted a break from the hour I was spending tied to my sink cleaning veggies and then cleaning the juicer.   And I was scared at first.  Every day I said to my husband "I didn't make my juice today"  as if I would instantly combust right in front of him.  

So now my juicer is dusty.  I haven't gone back to using it yet.  This is the longest I have left it sitting there.  Sometimes I feel  like the worrying and obsessing over using it is worse for my health than the not using it.  Does that make sense?  Sometimes I feel scared, sometimes I feel guilty.  Then I wish for a time when I didn't even know the "c" word.

I still believe that changing my diet has helped to keep me healthy.  I wish I didn't feel as though it is the only thing.  I think I need to spend more time figuring out ways to keep my mind healthier for the sake of my body.

Have you made any changes to your lifestyle in response to an illness?  Ever tried juicing?  Do you obsess over things in an attempt to gain control?? 

Friday, September 4, 2009

Young Adult Widows

Tomorrow will be the 15th anniversary of my first husband's death and although it is something I typically don't write about on this blog I think it is an important topic to discuss. Especially for young adults that experience that type of loss. Even though the circumstances of the death may be different the emotional experiences can be similar.

So I am sharing the link to a blog post over at Everything Changes. My friend Kairol Rosenthal who is a fellow young adult cancer survivor and the author of Everything Changes: The Insider's Guide to Cancer in Your 20'2 and 30's had a guest blogger write about her experience as a young widow who lost her spouse to cancer. If you haven't read Kairol's blog check it out today! She writes about all kinds of topics that young adult cancer survivors deal ranging from handling health insurance woes all the way to taboo topics such as sex during cancer treatment. This particular post sparked a really interesting conversation on this topic.

Here is the link to the post Mourning As A Young Adult.

Have you ever experienced the loss of a spouse at a young age? How did you handle it? What is the most significant loss you have suffered?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Procrastination. . . Wishing I Wasn't So Good At It

 I have never had a to do list and if I did nothing would be checked.  As far back as I can recall I have had a hard time with getting things done in the now.  In school I was always cramming the night before an exam or finishing a paper the last minute.  Although I seem to do my best work under pressure it certainly causes me undue stress.  My husband on the other hand is the polar opposite of me.  He has great difficulty understanding why it takes me so long to get things done.  I have been this way forever.   I am having a hard time trying to change.

And it isn't  just the bad stressful stuff I would put off like doctors appointments.  I began to notice that even exciting good things would be put off to the side, to be forgotten about, and at my worst, missed.  I find it hard to just start.  But once I get the momentum going I am good.  I wonder why I am like this.  I so want to change.  

I have started making more lists of things to do which on occasion has helped me move along.  I am better at getting things done for others when I am given a set deadline but without that I am donning the crown of procrastination queen yet again.  

Do you procrastinate?  Are you too good at it?  Have you been able to change your ways?  If so ....how?