Monday, April 29, 2013

Seven Years!

Shortly after midnight on Saturday my daughter and her friend gave me this beautiful card case to hold my business cards.

Sunday was my seven year anniversary as a Breast Cancer Survivor. On Friday, I ordered a cake for myself to celebrate this day.  I don't really drink, I don't do drugs and I have never smoked and I still got cancer... so yes I eat sugar.

I asked my closest friend in California, (who was literally the first person to hear the news as the Doctor called me at work) to come over and celebrate with me.

The day started out a little later than I had planned, I was running late for church and the chapel that I attend is very small and difficult to sneak in late. I decided to go to the church that we belonged to when we first moved here (and during my treatment) as their mass starts 15 minutes later. This parish had been talking and planning and raising money to build a new church when we became members. I do believe things happen for a reason and as I sat in the church I became very reflective on the past 7 years. I sat in the old church and prayed to heal and survive when I was sick. Now 7 years later I sat in this new church and so thankful that I am still here.
Cancer changed my life forever, not all bad, but changed nonetheless. I am healed on the outside, but sometimes the emotional side still creeps up on me. A few months back I had a “touch-up” procedure done. Before I left work for the appointment I looked at myself in the mirror and thought outwardly, most people that I meet now, have no idea that I am a cancer survivor. My hair has grown in and they can’t tell that it is much thinner than before. My eyebrows and my eyelashes have grown back and my eyelashes hold mascara again. My scars are not visible when I am dressed. People cannot see the effects of the aromatase inhibitors. But as I lay on the table with the greatest leopard hospital gown on… the tears started streaming down my face. I was back 7 years ago as they wheeled me into the operating room to remove a part of my body. I have learned we must allow ourselves to honor these moments as part of the healing process too.

Today the tears streamed down my face again, so many emotions. Happiness that I am still here, gratefulness for all of the people that supported, prayed and helped me. Sadness for many of the people that I met because of the cancer that are not here anymore. I wrote and delivered a note to another close friend at that time, who had helped me with the kids. Our lives have now taken us in different directions. I sent a thank you text to Lou for supporting me during my treatment. We were close to divorcing in 2006 and then I was diagnosed. We decided to stay together. We tried for another 5 years, but it just was not meant to be.
After honoring those few moments of tears and emotions I was off to enjoy my day. I walked my favorite island and visited my friend who is still recovering from a freak illness. He congratulated me and then asked “did you think you would be sitting here 7 years later?” “Honestly, I was not sure, but my Doctors were.” was my response. They told me it would be 12-18 months of hell and then I would have a greater risk driving on the freeways.

I treated myself to one of my favorite childhood candies while relaxing for a pedicure.

My friend and her daughter came over and we celebrated our friendship… and the girls ate CAKE! 

Nina and me!
The only part missing in the day was seeing my Dante. This was his weekend with his Dad and his future Step-Mother. Other than that… 

I am a survivor. 

I am alive. 

I have so many amazing people in my life that care about me.  

It was a great day.

cross posted at motherswithcancer

Friday, April 26, 2013

I heArt Fridays...7 Hearts

After the events in Boston I felt I needed to post more than just one heart.

I absolutely love this pair of hearts...

  This is a perfect time to look for heart shapes as the sun peers through the branches before the summer leaves are in full bloom.

 I see a few hearts in the photo below...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Going, Going, Gone...

This Sunday, April 28th I will have reached my 7th anniversary as a Breast Cancer Survivor. I thought this photo was appropriate for Throwback Thursday this week. I could not for the life of me find the “before” picture that I wanted to post, showing how long and thick my hair was before diagnosis. I am sure I will find it tomorrow!  Before my chemo made me bald, I decided to have a last bit of control and cut my hair short on my own. It really did not matter if I liked it or not as it would soon be gone.
My hair-stylist in New York also had long hair, when she was diagnosed with cancer she held on to her hair as long as she could. It was upon her suggestion that I cut it short before it fell out. It was hard to comprehend when she told me that my hair would actually hurt when it fell out and it would make it much easier if it was short. I did not have the courage that some women do to shave their head before it falls out.
After my first chemo treatment, I went to see Sean, my hairstylist since I moved to California. He cut my hair short and I loved it for about a week.

Then it started to hurt and fall out… everywhere. 

Who knows… maybe someday I will cut it short again… 

and hopefully keep it longer than a week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I heArt Fridays...brought to you by Nina

A friend took me to lunch at Z'Tejas a couple of months ago... they make this fabulous guacamole tableside. I have been craving it ever since. Last Saturday Nina and I met there and we split an order... she found this taco chip heart during our meal!
My Nina also found this heart. I love the "HE" in the upper right corner. I am going to pretend it said HEART, just because I think that would be so cool...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Nina and Duke

I just love this Throwback Thursday photo of Nina and Duke. Like many couples who try to have children and are not successful, they get a dog. Duke was our first canine baby. He was quite a handful when he was a puppy... really until he was about 2, but he was the best dog when it came to being a protector for Nina. She would pull on his lips, sit on him, roll over him, pull his tail... but he went with the flow. You can see the pride in his eyes in this photo. I got Nina's "Duke" sweater at the GAP... she was such a cutie. Golden's are such great dogs... but especially with children. This picture just always makes me smile... I hope it brings a smile to your face too?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

I heArt Fridays

I love how you can see a white question mark showing in the middle of the heart. 
Question your love? 
Why Love? 
What about love? 
Do you love me?

So fun!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Anne - Part 2

I decided to post about my Mother this week also.  These are some of the last photos that I have of her when she looked like “Anne” or Granny Annie as she liked to be called. She had vanity plates that said Granny.  She still enjoyed her dolls and she enjoyed playing with Nina during this visit. 

She had been diagnosed for a few years with Alzheimer’s at this point. She could not live on her own any longer so she moved back to her hometown of Rome, NY to live with her older sister. Alzheimer’s is truly a horrible disease. I believe at first it is hard for the patient, but after a certain point it really is harder on those around them. I remember reading the book The 36 Hour Day when she was first diagnosed. It was so hard to comprehend that this vibrant beautiful talented woman would soon not even remember her own children or remember how to do so many of things that brought her joy in her life. I don’t think I ever finished reading that book. 

She lived with my Aunt for a few years, but it became too much work for her too. We brought her back to Lancaster and she moved into an Assisted Living Facility that I designed in Cheektowaga, NY, Elderwood Village at Maplewood. She was a handful and kept getting out of the facility.

We had to move her into a skilled nursing facility,Heathwood, which I also designed in Williamsville, NY. The staff was great and they took good care of her. She wore an ankle bracelet so when she got close to the doors they would lock down so that she could not leave the facility. She was quite the flirt with the maintenance men. I worked for the company too and they would tell me “your Mom pinched my butt today”. Such an interesting and complicated disease!
By the time we moved out to California, she did not remember who I was anymore. Occasionally when I would see her she would have a moment of clarity and know me, but in a split second it was gone and I was just a nice girl visiting her. We moved out in August of 2003, the following March she turned 80. The week after her birthday, I got a call from the nurses at the facility that she had taken a turn and she was not swallowing her food. That is usually what happens with this disease… eventually the person does not remember how to swallow their food. She had her wishes documented and she did not want a feeding tube. The nurses were so good and called me daily to give me updates. I received the call that they thought it would only be a few days, I booked a flight for the next day which happened to be Easter Sunday. I celebrated with the kids in the morning and they took me to the airport. I had told the nurses that I was on my way and they told “Annie”. I arrived in Buffalo and reached the nursing home at about 2:00AM just hoping that she would still be alive. They escorted me to her room and told me that they did not think she had very long, but they felt she was waiting for me. I think they see death so much that they just know. I sat with her, she was not awake or coherent. Her breathing was deep. I had already had a priest administer last rights earlier that day. I sat and recited the rosary and then went through all of the people that I knew had gone before her. I told her they were waiting for her and that she should go to them. She had been breathing very heavy since I had gotten there. She made a loud gasp and then her breathing got very quiet. I could barely hear her anymore, so I watched her chest rise and fall. More time passed between each rise and fall and then nothing. I watched for a few minutes more. She had passed. It was the first time that I have ever been with a person as they died. It really was peaceful. I called the nurses in and they documented the time of death. They stood around her bed and cried. Annie died just before 4:00AM. I was there for less than 2 hours. She had waited for me.


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