Another trip around the sun

This woman is my inspiration! She just turned 95 and is the world’s oldest yoga teacher. I want to grow up to be just like her.

95 year old yoga teacher

Since I’ve last written, I had a birthday. I turned 44 on June 1, and it was an awesome day! Aspen and I drove to the airport to pick up Kerrianne who flew in from Ohio. We met Michael out for lunch (Zach was with his best friend, Bryce, who shares my birthday). Then once we got home, Zach joined us for cake and presents on the patio before heading out to a Rockies game. The weather was perfect — sunny and warm. The Rockies didn’t win, but I love watching baseball. And we had great, close seats so it was ok with me that the Rockies are in next to last place in the entire league.

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Kerrianne brought my birthday cake with her from Ohio. It was from Mrs. Goodman’s. She actually brought two. The first was a pretty, decorated key lime cake into which we put the candles and I made my wish. And then the second one was all mine — two plain, round chocolate cakes with no frosting, decorating or other distracting element to detract from the moist deliciousness that is my favorite food on earth. I rarely eat it because it’s not the healthiest thing for me, but I swear if it were, it may be ALL I’d eat.

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She also gave me a new pair of earrings that are sterling silver with Ohm symbols on them and a beautifully scented candle from a shop here in Arvada. She also gave me several gifts when she was here in May that were supposed to be birthday presents, but neither of us can help ourselves from early gift giving/receiving. So I got another candle, a memory foam pillow and a some gourmet vinegars and infused olive oils from another shop here in Arvada.

From the kids and Michael, I got a set of gorgeous windchimes — they’re copper Bells of Vienna. They are beautiful to look at and hear. They’re a deep, rich tone. I’ve not been subtle in my desire for a big windchime. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the chimes are about 3′ long. My other gift was the Rockies game. That was a surprise. I do love me some baseball. But I’m totally a fair weather fan — I go only when the weather is nice, and I’m sort of the worst fan ever because I cheer for both sides when I’m not really dedicated to either team. I just like to see nice plays and good hits — no matter who makes them. So sometimes I’d catch myself clapping for the Dodgers throughout the drubbing of the Rockies.

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This week while Kerrianne was in town, she took me flower shopping for my annuals, which were a gift from my parents. I got lots of beautiful blooms to fill my pots and planters in addition to hanging baskets. I was able to get most of it planted myself with some help from Aspen to do the heavy lifting (bag of potting soil and 2-gallon watering can). Michael also planted the back yard planter with my design direction.

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Fill ‘er up!

I saw my reconstructive surgeon on Thursday for fill #2 of my expanders. This is one interesting process, let me tell ya. After the first fill, they will no longer fill the right side until after radiation is complete. But they need to completely fill — and even overfill — the left because it can’t be stretched as well post radiation and there might even be some shrinking of the skin in that process. So it’s likely that I’ll have 100ccs of saline in my right side and 460ccs+ in my left (radiated) side for the five weeks of radiation. This is a detectable difference, but temporary. The nurse at the surgeon’s office told me that Nordstrom has a great breast cancer section for just this thing. They sell tops with slits to place temporary fillers. She also said that they have even better customer service in this area than what they normally provide. I will definitely be heading there once I’m ready for that. Right now, I can get away with a big t-shirt.

The reason that they don’t fill the right side is because the radiation beam comes in at an angle and they don’t want the right breast “in the way.” So I’m in the rare position of being able to keep it out of the path of the beam. Some women who are going in for radiation and have had a lumpectomy only, don’t have that opportunity. In the long run, it protects the healthy tissue of the right side and … it’s only five weeks.

The nurse at Dr. Bateman’s office said that on the day of my last radiation treatment, I can come in there and fill ‘er up! 🙂

Then it will be 6 months of healing time until they will swap out my expanders for my permanent implants.

Rehab

This coming Tuesday is exactly 4 weeks post surgery. Man, time has flown! I will start physical therapy that day. I’ll be going to a place that is exclusively dedicated to people who’ve had cancer. It’s called Oncology Rehab. The nurse at Dr. Bateman’s office told me that their therapists have come into the operating room to watch a procedure so they can see exactly what a mastectomy patient undergoes. They’ve gotten glowing reviews from both the reconstructive surgeon’s office and the radiation oncologist’s office. Both said they trust them implicitly. I’m excited to get started.

My range of motion right now isn’t so bad. I’ve followed doctor’s orders pretty closely, and I can tell when my pecs start to feel that I’m overdoing it. Typing is easy because I can pull the keyboard close to the edge of my desk and rest my wrists on the desk so that only my fingers have to move. Reaching for the mouse occasionally is no problem. I’ve done some cooking (today I made a double recipe of cabbage rolls for the crock pot), some dishes, some planting, and all my self care. It’s pretty easy to get shirts on and off now. It’s surprising how much your pecs/shoulders/arms are involved in so many activities. I’m trying to gradually increase my reach every day. I still need to go up on my tip toes to reach a few things, but I can hang clothes on the top bar in my closet, reach for a glass and I’m allowed to drive now.

I can feel that my spine is ready for a nice, relaxing twist. As a yogi, my body has grown accustomed to being flexible. Right now, it’s not so happy that I’m being more rigid than normal. I believe that PT will get me back into twisting shape in no time.

No more wig!

I think I’m done wearing my wig. My hair is growing back in nicely and I predict that I’ll even need to style it in 6 weeks or so. I’m trying to do all the things I know of to promote hair growth — scalp massage, inverting my head to increase blood flow to the scalp and oil. I’ve been using a rich blend of oils called “Face Food” that is used for … wait for it … faces.

Additionally, it’s hot. The wig itself allows some air flow, but the cap that is worn beneath does not. It’s made from bamboo and feels like a really thick nylon stocking. It doesn’t breathe at all. I have tried to wear the wig without it, but the weaving of the wig is just too itchy and uncomfortable.

It’s liberating to go without. This winter when I first lost my hair, it was wonderful to have. It looked just like my real hair, and it kept my head warm. When I’d take it off for bed, I wore a hat or scarf to sleep in because my head got cold. Plus I didn’t like how the stubble rocked back and forth on the pillow. Maybe I’m used to that by now or maybe my new hair is softer, but I don’t notice that anymore.

I also feel more comfortable with people seeing me bald. At first, I was also sick, and putting on the wig made me feel better. Plus, people can be real idiots and take liberties with asking questions. I had some people (acquaintances and strangers) ask me if the chemo was working and what’s my prognosis and did they catch it early. And when I answered truthfully — which is I don’t know, I don’t know and not particularly — they’d give me a pitied, worried look which really just made me want to punch them. So in order to avoid the punching, which evidently is frowned upon, I decided that strangers and mere acquaintances didn’t need to know such personal things about me. The wig helped me from having to explain.

Now, however, I don’t mind saying, “yes I HAD breast cancer and now my hair is growing back.”

In case you’re one of those people who doesn’t know what to say to people dealing with a severe illness, I have a couple of suggestions. 🙂 1. I’m sorry that you have to deal with this. 2. Please let me know how I can help. 3. Hey, (insert name here) what’s up? This last one I like the best because people with serious illnesses are the same people they were before the illness with the same interests and concerns. There is more to them than their illness. (Hang on while I hop down off my soapbox).

While my hair is continuing to grow in, I’ll continue to accept my son’s accidental compliments. Last week at the Rocky Mountain Air show, he told me that I look like Carol from Walking Dead. Then last night at dinner he said that I look like Charlise Theron from Mad Max. And he’s not even trying to get cash or privileges out of me! He’s making observations. So if that’s what I look like to his mind, then that ain’t so bad at all!!

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Thank yous

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me with birthday wishes. I loved all of my Facebook posts, cards, texts, emails and private messages.

Thank you to Joanie for my awesome gift basket. I will use the Barnes & Noble gift card to fill up my Kindle before my vacation in August. I’ll drink my delicious organic teas from my beautiful Fiesta mug and savor the treats.

Thank you to Phil and Linda who wished me a happy birthday with some adorable cookies and organic tea. Yum!

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Thank you to Enrique for my most unexpected birthday present — a garden table that he made himself. I was shocked. I love it for its beauty, utility and thoughtfulness.

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Many thanks to Patty for my beautiful tea cup friendship rose plant. I love it! Can’t wait to find the perfect spot in my yard for it.

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