Archives for posts with tag: women

Visited my oncologist – the fabulous Dr. Shroff – SmileyFace on Friday for a regular office visit and to have my port flushed.  I was left in the examining room for about an hour waiting for my doctor but I do not get impatient as I know sometimes the prescribed 15 minute appointments run long, particularly if she has to deliver bad news.  And Friday, as I would find out later, was a bad news day for lots of her patients but fortunately for me, I was not among them.

I feel pretty good, have a good head of returning hair, and all systems are “go” for now. If anything I am too fat.  I emerged from chemo in March with incredible aches and pains in my bones and joints so each time I worked out at the gym I couldn’t sleep for the next two days because of the pain in my lower extremities.  As a matter of fact, right before my cancer diagnosis last fall I was investigating alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

My right knee was replaced in 2009 and way back then the ortho doc told me my left knee was not far behind.  That knee surgery in 2009 was big and bad and recovery was difficult so I was actually looking at stem cell therapies that might help me avoid surgery when cancer interrupted my research.

Anyway, despite having put on weight in the past 2 months, my fabulous oncologist could not have been more supportive and encouraging.  She didn’t scold for the added weight.  In fact, she said it was great to see me so hale and hearty (or something like that).  I told her I was going to pursue left knee replacement and she gave it her blessing, encouraging me to do whatever I needed to do to feel good and get back to all my regular routines.   Those routines include regular exercise that requires fully functional knees.

After my visit with my fabulous doctor I was ushered into the chemo room so they could do my blood work and flush the port.  The oncology nurses are just so remarkable they deserve a mention here.  Throughout my four-month chemo journey,  they  delivered that toxic cocktail with great skill, cheerful support, and friendly efficiency.  They have to blend accurate nursing skills with the most elegant customer service skills, and do it with warmth and humor all day every day to folks who are at some of the lowest points of their lives.  They watch some recover, and watch others fade, and still maintain that relentless warmth.  I thank them all each time I visit, but also wanted to make it known here as I suspect many of my fellow cancer patients have had similar experiences.  If you are reading this and had a similar experience, feel free to comment.

Provided cancer stays in my rearview mirror, I will move forward with knee replacement sometime before February 28.  That is when my medical year ends so I would like to get it done this year since I have already met deductible and out-of-pocket.

For now, back to the gym I go.  I need to lose weight and build up strength in both legs which is key to quick recovery from surgery.  To that end, I am headed to the kitchen to whip up a HUGE batch of gazpacho: a crispy, cold summer soup with lots of vegetables and not many calories.

Gazpacho

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Tomorrow is my first chemo.  Chose Friday afternoon so I can consider it my Happy Hour.  Sister is taking me and I will be wearing Depends just in case I crap my pants (dohhhh). Also placing puppy pee pads on the car seat. Semper paratis and down the hatch!

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Biopsy performed Monday confirmed that I have lobular carcinoma.  I am not sure if it was ironic to get that diagnosis during Breast Cancer awareness month, but I am sure it was earth shattering to me.

 

I am fat but other than that, I am and always have been a healthy individual.  Why i have cancer is far too great a question to ponder now and I already know there would not be a simple, straightforward answer so I will move on.

 

There is a flurry of activity now (scans, consultations, etc.) leading up to mastectomy on Oct 29.  I care nothing about my breasts, have no attachment to them, so I will bid them a not so fond adieu.   Oh, the cancer is in left breast but  my surgeon suggests we strongly consider removing both regardless of what the PET and MRI reveal.  So there’s that.

 

I received confirmation of this diagnosis late Thursday afternoon.  It was a most gorgeous fall day in sunny Florida.  Blue sky, no clouds, no humidity and warm sun – a perfect day unless your life is threatened.  There are three “aggressiveness” markers for this particular cancer.  The biopsy results for two of those markers are very much in my favor.  Yea me!  The third marker will probably be in on Monday.  So I hurry up and wait.

 

I left the doc’s office and drove to my mother’s.   I told my mom and 2 sisters, cried a lot, drank a beer and went home to get a couple of 1 hour naps in before heading to work on Friday.  Real sleep never showed up that night.   Too afraid, I figured.

 

So on Friday morning I performed all my usual routines and even had to make a quick trip to grocery store on the way to work.  The clerk said “thanks and have a great day” as she handed me my change.  “You too,” i called over my shoulder while thinking “too late for that”.  The store manager passed me on my way out the front door. “Take care” he said with a genuine smile.  I smile back and nod while muttering “that’s what I thought I had been doing”. Oh well.

 

My surgeon is a breast specialist who has to deliver really bad news fairly often so she is well practiced in the art and science and psychology of it all.  As she schooled me through what is and what will be in the near term she kept soliciting questions from me.  Eventually I got to the question – THE question. “Am I gonna live to be an old woman?”

 

Her answer, which comes from the art and science and psychology of it all, was pragmatic.  It was as straightforward as you can get and would never make it into a script for a Lifetime Network movie of the week. She said they all come to work every day hoping to make improvements in patient’s lives.  And that is what they were gonna do for me.  They were gonna try to make an improvement in my life.  

So the journey I have been traveling on for the past 56 years has taken an unexpected turn.  My personal GPS is recalculating.

 

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Figuratively speaking, of course.

I have certainly penned my fair share of copy as a sort of “keystroke for hire” enterprise.  Image

And it has provided a lovely supplemental income along the way so I have no complaints.  In one sense it is so much safer.  My reputation is only the line with my solitary and secretive customer who may reject my articles and demand something new and different at any moment.   And truly the risk is assumed by whomever chooses to engage me as their voice.  The true nature of ghost writing is that I cannot claim any of the documentation even when it turns out to be great.  Ok, in an effort to be truly transparent I am not aware that anything I have written has been considered great.

My experiences in ghost writing have been accumulated over the past 5-8 years, but my existence as a ghost became apparent about 15 years ago and has been verified over and over and over since then.  You see, at some point in my 30’s – I can actually pinpoint the day I became aware – I became invisible in a retail environment.

The moment of clarity was one day when I was shopping in a major electronics retailer. After browsing alone I engaged in conversation with a retail guy simply by asking for his help.  I was shopping for a computer and wanted to ask a couple of questions about two models I was considering.  I asked, and he was answering in great detail until he was interrupted by a middle-aged white guy who interrupted us by asking the retail clerk if he knew anything about the new Gateway.  The retail clerk stopped speaking to me in mid-sentence and he and the middle aged white guy walked away engaged in lively and animated computer talk.

I am smart.  I am not stylish nor attractive, but I am smart.  So I surmised that, unbeknownst to me, in that instant I evaporated.  In a sort of now-you-see-me now-you-don’t, I ceased to be a human in the retail environment. Image

Just as abruptly as those two walked away, I ended my shopping trip and shortly thereafter Amazon.com became my new bff.  I am never invisible to Amazon.   Or perhaps all of us Amazonians are invisible but at least that gives us equal footing.

The retail invisibility that began long, long ago has continued and can be recreated on any given day in any given store.  I am perpetually hard-pressed to find anyone in any kind of retail environment that will actually “help” me.  I don’t shop at high end clothiers so most of those staff are busy being clerks taking money and simply aren’t available to lend a hand with styles and colors and sizes.

This invisibility used to annoy me endlessly.  I considered entering stores while brandishing $20 bills or buying and conspicuously wearing a fake Rolex just to garner some attention.   Ultimately I decided neither of those ploys would make a difference.

So I blame it on my ovaries.  And my breasts.   And my Fallopian tubes.  And my uterus.

Like most women my age, I became invisible because of my “lady parts”.

Ovaries shut down, breasts sag, Fallopian tubes atrophy but money remains.  And talks and talks and talks.  So while I may be invisible in your store, I will let my money be my voice.  Now if you’ll excuse me I gotta go buy more stuff on Amazon.

Her shoe was untied.

Seven points.  With 61 seconds to play they were up seven points.  That was a sure victory!

She had waited for a moment like this her whole entire life dating all the way back to summer league with the boys when she was about to start grade school.

Protect the lead, dribble out the clock, make your free throws and celebrate the win!  That was how that script was written.  But she had gone off-script and so had the result.

First a turnover at half-court and a breakaway layup for them that burned all of four seconds off the clock.  The seven point lead was down to five with just under a minute to play.  What was she thinking trying a cross-over with her opponent already shading to her right?  Maybe thinking wasn’t actually the culprit here.  Maybe showboating was to blame.

That turnover was followed by an ill-advised three point attempt early in the next possession that left her hands and landed out of bounds under the basket about two seconds later having never made contact with anything else.   Airball.  She could feel Coach JJ glaring but didn’t dare look over at the bench for fear she would cry right then and there.

She knew she could redeem herself with a steal and a layup as their point guard brought the ball up.  She shadowed the girl and the two zigzagged up the court.   Earlier in the game, she had overplayed on purpose – teasing the other guard into changing direction – and then quickly closed to swipe the ball right out of her hands leaving her opponent staggering at midcourt while she raced in for an uncontested layup.   That trick worked so well before, maybe it was time she tried it again.

But this time, the older, more experienced opponent felt it coming and just spun the opposite way and blew right past her.  This other point guard was the high scorer for her team so she had the green light to launch at will.  And launch she did knocking down a three pointer that ripped the net and hearts simultaneously.

Now it was a two-point game with more than half a minute to play.  All the oxygen had been sucked out of the gym.  She couldn’t breathe and dried saliva had sealed her mouth shut.  Her legs were stiffening and her hands felt numb.  Her heart was pounding.  Was this a heart attack?  Is this what a heart attack feels like, she wondered?  Maybe she was having a heart attack. The thought gladdened her because it would be the only plausible explanation for her late-game collapse.

She took the throw in and was immediately fouled.  She just needed to step to the line and nail these free-throws  with the game and her reputation at stake.  Yeah, no pressure there.

With both teams appropriately assembled, the ref handed her the ball which by now, weighed almost as much as a cinder block.  She tried to give it the three spins in her hand which was her free throw ritual but her hands were tacky and the ball screeched to a premature halt each time.   After the third abbreviated spin, she took one dribble, aimed and launched.  But unlike the 19 out of 20 times during pregame, this one missed the mark.  WHAT?

She stepped back and tried to collect herself but that tiny leak in the dam was now a gaping hole.  Confidence drained out and fear claimed that space.   Her knees were knocking.  She stepped back to the line and looked down.

Her shoe was untied.

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A study (http://www.womentalksports.com/items/read/39/1381316/why-arent-more-women-watching-womens-sports) recently explored the question of why more women don’t watch sports.

It is a dodgy issue for sure.  It is particularly painful to me that more women don’t support women athletes by watching or buying tickets to female sporting events.

And I can’t honestly explain why I love sports.  But today when the @womentalksports twitter feed wanted to know why any of us DO watch sports I could only give a simple but heartfelt response.  I feel about sports the way Carrie Bradshaw felt about Manolo Blahnik shoes.  “Hello Luv-ah!”

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