Friday, 23 January 2015

Haters Gonna Hate (No this is NOT about Taylor Swift:)

Lately, as I've been browsing the web, I've come across something I really don't like. My life revolves around breast cancer, the latest in research, new clinical trials, as well as following other women's "crapshoot" "journey" we call breast cancer. I'm talking about the haters. This word throws me off because now all I automatically think about is that Taylor Swift song!!

Yes, having cancer is not easy, and I'm not expecting people to be happy and joyous, and purely amazing all the time. Not at all!! However, I have little tolerance for individuals who hate on others who have this disease and how they "choose to do" cancer. Firstly, I accept and respect how everyone does it. No two people are the same. Recently, there was an article of a twenty something year old woman who has the BRCA gene mutation and so she chose to have a preventive double mastectomy. She does not have breast cancer, but has a high likelihood of acquiring it. Both her mother and sister died from this disease. I am certain that she "gets it." However, the criticism I found online from people who did not like how she chose to have a party for her double D boobs she was gonna lose, was just plain shocking. Again, I read the same old crap about how she's sexualizing this disease, and how insulting this is for those fighting this disease on a daily basis. Ok. Well, as an individual living with stage IV cancer I'm not insulted. At ALL!!!

I don't believe there's a "right way" to "do cancer." Why are we over analyzing every individual's decisions?? We do not live their lives, so I truly feel this is simply a form of virtual bullying. I mean when I saw the pics of this young woman in sexualized pics, I mean I know I wouldn't have done it myself. However, that's simply my choice. Probably because I never had her smoking double Ds, so I simply couldn't quite relate. I mean I always had the boobs of a girl who hadn't quite hit puberty. I felt like it was just around the corner, but it's as though I got lost and never found the corner. It's all good as I'm quite happy with my one remaining tit! I feel that everyone copes with this disease so differently. As crazy as some things may seem to me I understand it affects everyone differently and, hence, we choose to cope in our own little ways.

As well, I feel young women sometimes get this bad rep for how we choose to advocate, and simply share our cancer stories. This bashing of "sexualizing" and "trivializing" this disease is so ridiculous. Fun fact: we are all sexual beings. Yup. Sorry to spill the beans! Young women are in an extremely different place in life then someone in their 50s or 60s. If you fall into this age category try to think back to when you were in your 20s. What were you doing and thinking?? Many people are getting married, starting careers, having families. Now imagine getting cancer. Everything stops. Not only does it affect every single aspect of your life, but it also eats away at the youth you have left. You're staring death in the face while trying desperately to live the life you want.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I refuse to hate on others for how they "do cancer." Honestly, constant anger, hating, and complaining will completely eat away at you. Sadly, I find that it only mirrors the person you are, and does not reflect at all on the person you are complaining about. Ultimately, regardless of age, we all have the same end game which is to survive. If you don't like a pic someone posts or the way they handle their disease, then don't look at it or read it. Quite simple actually. Enough with the haters. All I can think of now, again, is that Taylor Swift song every time I write the word hate! Sorry, I tend to lose my train of thought easily and quickly.

(Five minutes later)

Yes, that's how derailed I got from writing a damn word, pathetic! Any who, what I'm trying to get to is everyone who has, had, knows someone, or lost someone who had breast cancer all share a common thread. That's the pain and loss this disease has thrust upon us. It sucks. Can we choose to focus on being kind, compassionate people?? Or will we simply focus on trying to nitpick people apart and criticize their very personal choices that we probably really know nothing about. Cancer and all it entails is fucking hard already, we don't need cancer bullies too!! The next time you read an article which has a young woman throwing a boob party or whatever you may see as sexualized, try and see past the picture posted. Try and empathize with the fear and dread that they are probably feeling. The whole reason they may be taking those pics may be because they fear they will lose that aspect of themselves, and those pictures will be all that's left of their carefree, young life. Cancer takes away your carefree days. What follows are the days of worry, fear, and facing your mortality. We can all smile at a camera, but it's what you don't see that harbours our saddest, darkest moments. Stepping on someone when they're down is not my style, and I dare you all to try and accept and respect others who are going through this. Who knows, in the end you may end up being a much happier person! I know I am:).

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Sunshine. Ocean. Beach. I Am Ready To See You!!!

I am ready for a vacation. I want to go on vacation. Ok I NEED a vacation. I'm over the snow, and I have had enough of the cold. I dress nice and warm, turn my seat warmer on, and within five minutes of driving I get a hot flash. I'm never quick enough to rip my scarf off, and turn my seat warmer off. Suddenly my window is down and I'm driving like a total crazy person with my windows down in -20degrees weather. I'm also cursing because I HATE hot flashes and how it leaves me drenched! Yes, I am ready to hop on a plane and head to a sunny destination where I don't need to wear quite as much clothes. However, there's two things I need to contemplate before I spontaneously get the heck out of here: appointments and bathing suits.

Firstly, I coordinate a shitload of my life around appointments. Therefore, this time, I simply said my appointments can be coordinated around my life. First time around, obviously everything was done around these appointments, but this time I don't have an end date. Which is fine because an end date with metastatic cancer means; The End! As in my life is over. Ugh. Alright, let's get back on the happy track-vacation. I essentially told myself I am going to plan this vacation, and any treatments or scans that happen to fall in this time frame can be rescheduled.

Problem number one: Having metastatic cancer does not award you the luxury of planning anything long term. This is tough with vacation planning especially when you are trying to plan a vacation to Hawaii. There is very little availability with exorbitant costs! I knew I always wanted to go to Hawaii, therefore I had to book a vacation a little bit farther in advance then I would have liked. However, it got booked and hubby and I are going to Hawaii in March!! Best part, when I looked at what treatments had to be rescheduled nothing fell into this two week span, double yaaay!!

Problem number two: having one tit and bikini shopping became another mission. Firstly, after my first bout with breast cancer I knew I would need a prosthetic for swimming. However, my way of purchasing a prosthetic was... well... not exactly the way most would do it. Typically people would go and have measurements done, and then have this light weight prosthetic made. I, on the other hand, went online. I felt it would be easy to replicate my remaining tit. Let's be honest here, my remaining tit is small so this shouldn't be too hard to replicate! Heck, I could shove a mandarin orange into the other side and I would probably look balanced! However, knowing me, I would probably eat the orange and end up back at square one again. Anyhow, I found a place online, the prosthetic looked like it would work, and pressed "purchase." After I placed my order I looked at the other things this online shop had to offer. Some of it seemed kind of odd. As well, it stated at checkout that their boxes are "discrete" that they deliver in. Ok, I thought. Weird a little, but maybe some people just aren't comfortable with the UPS guy knowing they have one boob. I didn't totally know, but didn't think too hard into it. Then the day I got my product I quickly realized with the booklet they sent me that I had purchased this off of an online transvestite store!! This was not a shop for women with breast cancer. Hmm... I initially laughed hysterically because I never thought I would be purchasing things off of a site like this, but I also never thought I would get cancer. Not going to lie, I browsed through their inventory and even learnt a little bit!

I have this transsexual prosthetic that I have used on many vacations. It works. However, it is a bit heavy and I always alter the stitching on my bathing suit so that this heavy tit thing can be nicely fitted in. One thing I've noticed since having a mastectomy is when I've looked at bathing suits purposely made for people with mastectomies they all look pretty lame. I mean even the local store had bathing suits that were massive in size, and reminded me of something that an 80year old would wear to aquasize!! They were all one piece and the cut was high. I thought of a flippin turtle neck!! I feel as though I could have gotten a hair net with it! Oh so sexy. Can you picture me walking down the beach in a one piece, high neck bathing suit, with a hair net on?? I can, but only in my flippin nightmares!!  Firstly, I'm 29 years old. I enjoy wearing a bikini, and have always bought really cute bathing suits from Victoria's Secret. Firstly, just by Victoria's Secret's name you would think they would make bathing suits for people who have had mastectomies. I mean that could be the "secret." I have one boob, the person next to me has no boobs, but you would never know due to the amazing fit. I still think there's a lot of money in this, and definitely a demand for it. Obviously, there's bathing suits I can no longer wear but I can still wear a bikini, strapless, with a certain cut. This is once again an area that I find to be a downfall. Young people do get breast cancer and we still have a desire to look good in a bathing suit. It seems that everything is catered to the elderly. I am determined, and managed to find myself a bikini that I know I can modify and make work.

Now I am excited and looking forward to escaping this bitter cold, slippery streets, and more importantly my medical routine. I am so excited to lay on a beach, hear the ocean waves, and simply not worry about a thing. Although, sharks are a major fear of mine and I know I have a poor track record for rare things happening, so I googled what to do if a shark attacks. I am prepared. I will punch his nose;). Yup, I got this! It's so refreshing and exciting to look forward to something other than my next scan. I am counting down the days until March!! Sunshine here I come!!

 The only thing I like about this pic is the drink in her hand!! I can also relate to the poor vision bit as well;) Ok, we may have a lot more in common then I initially thought!! Damn it!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Bittersweet Arrival

January 4th, 2015 was a day I will always remember. It was the day my first nephew was born. As I pulled up to the hospital to meet my new little nephew, I was filled with so much happiness and excitement! A new life is by far the most amazing thing, and the biggest blessing ever!

Growing up I was the child who loved dolls, always pushed around a stroller and played house. I became a paediatric nurse because I love children with ever ounce of my being. I was never the girl who dreamed of her wedding but, rather, dreamed of one day being a mom.

When I walked into the room and saw this beautiful little being I instantly fell in love, and was ecstatic for my brother and his wife, but then I was overcome with so much emotion. I looked at him as I held him and cried. Cried because I knew the one thing I was so certain about my whole life would never happen; to have children. I don't know why but this is the one thing since my diagnosis that has been the hardest. I watch my friends, whom I love, have their own children and watch them grow. I, on the other hand, have my life completely frozen in time. When I looked at my nephew the only thing I could think about was what do I have to look forward to?? Sadly, all I could think about was death. I realized how gut wrenchingly hard all this is. Even with my illness I still do all the things I love. I go out, enjoy my time with friends and family, and vacation. My pain is manageable, and thus I have a great quality of life. However, deep down all I could think of was the only thing that could possibly fulfill my life was a child.

People who have their own children don't understand the depth of despair of knowing that having your own child just won't happen. As I looked at this new life I wondered how long I would even get to be a part of his life. Would he even know who I was? All of it was just way too hard.

When I went downstairs to greet my hubby at the hospital the very site of him made me start crying. I mean ugly faced crying, nothing pretty about this! People probably thought a loved one died not that a new life entered the world! My hubby, as usual, was the calm, collected, voice of reason. I feel as his wife I have completely failed him. He, on the other hand, does not feel that way, and when he says it he means it. He tells me regularly how all he wants is me, and that is enough. I guess I just don't get how I could possibly be enough. He's so certain when he speaks, but I feel as though I betrayed him. We both got married with an intention to have a family, but because of me and this fuckin cancer it's not possible. Part of me wishes I would have gotten pregnant prior to being diagnosed. At least a part of me would be left behind when I'm no longer here. I know it sounds so morbid but my damn life feels like it's at this standstill. I hate it, and this beautiful boy reminded me that what I worked so hard for all these years wouldn't matter because my biggest wish of having a family will never be.

When I see parents with multiple children who don't even recognize for a second what a blessing a child is it makes me question everything. I'm not a bad person, so why did this all have to happen to me, and why is this dysfunctional woman who treats her multiple children like crap get to have a family?!?!? I know I'll never know the answer to that, but it still makes me question everything.

When I hear people complain about their kids all I can think of is I would give anything to have that, and I wouldn't complain. I will love this little peanut with all my being as I do my nieces. The elation I had with the birth of my nieces was amazing, and when I looked at them I looked forward to the day I would have my own. I guess with the birth of this little man it simply reiterated where my life has gone. The hopes for a future I planned and was so excited for just won't be, and that's one more thing that cancer has taken from me.

I want to make it clear that I am over the moon for this little being, and I am not sitting around crying about it daily. It was the day of his birth when I realized the limitations that this disease has created for me. On a day to day basis I exist just like everyone else. I laugh more then I cry, but when something so profound happens such as the arrival of a new life that's when the depth of this disease seems to sink in more.

I love my nieces and nephew indescribably, and will be a part of their lives as long as I'm in it.  I just want them to remember me, and know that I love them with every ounce of my being. I really wish, now more then ever, that things could be different. Hope is basically all I have left. Hope that new advancements come out sooner rather than later. Hope that because I'm still young, maybe just maybe, somehow some breakthrough will come to be that will allow me to have my own biological children. HOPE. Such a simple word, yet it holds every ounce of my future so delicately. Never lose hope. Especially when that's all you have left.

Little T!!

Honestly, there's nothing I love more than newborn snuggles!!!

Sweet little peanut. I just want to snuggle and kiss him all day!!

Too cute not to post!!

I love this!! Big sis cuddling her baby bro. I can feel the love between the two already. I think they'll have a very special bond!

more cuddles:)

Saturday, 3 January 2015

2015. Happy New Year

And just like that another year is over! I wish I could happily say I've left cancer and all the treatments behind in 2014 but, unfortunately, the sneaky son of a bitch continues to be a part of me. Oh well. However, this post isn't about the big "C." Rather, it's about how I spent New Year's Eve.

In the past, pre-craptaculous cancer, I always wanted to do something on New Year's Eve. What you may ask? Well, not even I really know. I wanted my own New Year's Eve countdown, as if I were in NYC, but somewhere closer. Ok, I just wanted to go out and feel as if something huge changed as soon as the clock struck midnight. As if a unicorn would enter into my life and everything would instantaneously change. Yes, these were actual thoughts I had prior to my initiation of cannabis usage.

As I thought of the years passed, nothing ever worked out. Ever! We couldn't get reservations to where we wanted to eat, couldn't get tickets to the movies, and the list goes on and on. Essentially we would ring in the new year in my car. No magical unicorns or fireworks. And yet, it was a new year.

Therefore, this year I wanted nothing to do with going out. I wanted to be with my family and the people who are the most important to me. I wanted to stay home, eat in, bake with my favourite little girlies, and play board games. This was the first year where I actually felt that it was the perfect way to ring in the new year. You see, the only thing that's important to me now is my family and making memories. Nothing else. I don't care about "stuff" or this facade of pretending to be something I'm not to other people. I'm not chasing or looking for that magical unicorn anymore. The best of everything was actually right in front of me all along; my family.

Yes, I take pictures of everything now, and some may think its borderline obsessive but it really is the only concrete way to remember a moment. My phone has well over 1000 pics on it and that's just from one month, but I like to look at those pics when I'm out, waiting for an appointment or any other not so fabulous moment I encounter. It makes me realize that although the specific moment I'm in may be dreaded, stressful, and scary that this too will pass, and I can look forward to the happy moments I have the majority of the time. It helps me cope and always makes me smile.  I can start planning the enjoyable moments in my head while waiting to get a CT, and try to not dwell on what may be growing inside me.

Therefore, the start of my New Year was everything I wanted and more. Although, I have also been plagued by some pretty intense pain lately that I'm wondering at what point I should tell my oncologist, but for once I may choose to be beautifully ignorant in the moment and try to endure it. However, I promised this blog post wouldn't be about the big "C" so that's all I'll mention about that. I'll choose to continue to focus on the many beautiful pictures of my favourite people, and the moments captured in time that reflect the happiest components of my life.

The last few hours of 2014