My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


12 Comments

Gray Hair, Don’t Care

Well, maybe I care a little bit.  It’s interesting.  When I look at myself in the mirror, I still see cancer.  My eyelashes are thin, so are my eyebrows.  And my hair…  My hair is, well, not my hair.  It’s very short and very gray.  Not that deep, dark chocolate bob that I used to sport.  When I see my reflection, I still see illness.

It’s interesting, though.  Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on my “haircut.”  When people I know tell me that my hair looks great, it’s not that I think they’re lying.  I just think they’re being extra nice.  But strangers in elevators have been asking where I get my hair done?  I’m always thrown for a loop.  I don’t know what to say.  Because to me, it’s not a haircut.  It’s not a hairstyle.  It’s cancer.  It’s sickness.  It’s pain.  And although the look is funky, it’s not me.

I’m looking forward to my first haircut and the pixie cuts that I will rock.  I think that will be fun.  But right now, a little more than 3 months post chemo, I’m still getting used to the new me.

hair 3 months

The top two photos are a little more than a month post chemo. The bottom photos were taken a week ago, just a little more than 3 months post chemo.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Taking A Little Break

Hi Friends!  Last week was a crazy week.  All of my residencies culminated in final sharings and performances.  All of my students were amazing but it was a long and stressful week.

I am being rewarded by a week long vacation with my family in Martha’s Vineyard.  Unless it rains, I won’t be posting until I get back.  No cancer for a week!!!  But in the meantime, here are some pictures from our first 24 hours.  See you all soon!

DSC_0065

View from the house we’re staying in.

Another view.

Another view.

Oliver is so happy with space to run around!

Oliver is so happy with space to run around!

DSC_0099 DSC_0103

The house with a screened in and open porch.

The house with a screened in and open porch.

Catching bugs.

Catching bugs.

We found a rabbit.

We found a rabbit.

Shhhh!!!!  Be quiet and don't scare the rabbit!

Shhhh!!!! Be quiet and don’t scare the rabbit!

Lobstah!

Lobstah!

DSCN0092 DSCN0116 DSCN0123


4 Comments

Swimwear Post Mastectomy, Pre-Reconstruction

In less than two weeks, I am going away with my family to Martha’s Vineyard.  While it’s not the private, luxury Caribbean escape I was hoping for, I really can’t complain.  There are beaches, lobster shacks, bike trails…everything I need.

It occurred to me as I was looking through my summer wardrobe that my old bathing suits might not fit me anymore.  They are mostly halter tops with deep plunging v-necks with little support.  They were great for my small breasts and also wonderful for when I was breast feeding on the beach.

But now that I have had a mastectomy and have a tissue expander in one breast, fitting into a bathing suit is tricky.  For starters, one breast is bigger than the other due to the tissue expander.  The left hangs much lower than my right which is now unnaturally high up.  So when I put on my bathing suit and looked in the mirror, I looked like a Pablo Picasso painting (not in the good way).

Notice one breast is higher than the other.  That's kind of what I look like right now.

Notice one breast is higher than the other. That’s kind of what I look like right now.

My budget right now is limited but I wanted to get a bathing suit that was cute and functional, but not a mastectomy bathing suit (I don’t want to wear the cutlets to the beach, or anywhere for that matter).  After scouring the internet and falling in love with suits that cost $100+, I decided to go to Target.  Lo and behold, I found a large selection of tops and bottoms that would work.  But I settled on these two pieces.

I got the top in "Animal Print."  It has a retro feel with the twist tie full cups and the thick straps.  The straps and the light padding provide a lift and shape.  Unless you are staring, you can't tell that one breast is larger or higher than the other.  And at $22.99, the price can't be beat!

I got the top in “Animal Print.” It has a retro feel with the twist tie full cups and the thick straps. The straps and the light padding provide a lift and shape. Unless you are staring, you can’t tell that one breast is larger or higher than the other. And at $22.99, the price can’t be beat!

I love this little swim skirt.  It provides coverage but gives a sexy, retro feel.

I love this little swim skirt. It provides coverage but gives a sexy, retro feel.

I also loved this swimsuit from Target but I prefer tankinis (one pieces are a pain in the ass to deal with when you have to pee!)

Retro, fun, simple.  I love the full coverage cups with the sweetheart neckline to elongate the neck.

Retro, fun, simple. I love the full coverage cups with the sweetheart neckline to elongate the neck.

If money is no object or you just want to get the suit you love because you deserve it, I think these are great choices.

I love this one shoulder number.  It's sexy but still has full breast coverage.  Anthropologie.com

I love this one shoulder number. It’s sexy but still has full breast coverage. Anthropologie.com

I think the print on this suit could detract from any breast inconsistencies.  I love the shape and the colors. Anthropologie.com

I think the print on this suit could detract from any breast inconsistencies. I love the shape and the colors.
Anthropologie.com

I've never seen anything like this.  It's conservative yet smoking hot at the same time.

I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s conservative yet smoking hot at the same time. Anthropologie.com

I love the colors and the print on this.  It's a bikini that's still sexy but not too revealing.  Less is more sometimes, right?  modcloth.com

I love the colors and the print on this. It’s a bikini that’s still sexy but not too revealing. Less is more sometimes, right? modcloth.com

While this suit isn't my personal style, I think this top is a great option since it's built a bit like a sports bra.  modcloth.com

While this suit isn’t my personal style, I think this top is a great option since it’s built a bit like a sports bra. modcloth.com

This rash guard is great option since it has UVA and UVB protection which is important for skin protection post radiation.  It comes in an array of colors.  bodenusa.com

This rash guard is great option since it has UVA and UVB protection which is important for skin protection post radiation. It comes in an array of colors. bodenusa.com

Another sexy number that has support and coverage.  And that color is killer!  neimanmarcus.com

Another sexy number that has support and coverage. And that color is killer! neimanmarcus.com

Finally, isn't this the cutest thing to cover your bald head with?  I need it!!!!!!  nordstrom.com

Finally, isn’t this the cutest thing to cover your bald head with? I need it!!!!!! nordstrom.com


4 Comments

Best. Idea. Ever.

Yesterday I was at The NYU Cancer Center to get my herceptin infusion which I get every three weeks.  The whole day took longer than expected which bummed me out because it was so beautiful outside.  The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and the temperature was in the mid-70s.  It was perfect but I was stuck inside.

And then it hit me.  The best idea ever!

Every cancer center should have a rooftop infusion room!  Like a rooftop bar!  Think about it!  Instead of being stuck in a dull, sometimes windowless room with no color and fluorescent lighting, you could be outside in a lounge chair, under and umbrella, enjoying the day!  There could be a bar with coconut water, house made ginger ale (for those who aren’t feeling so hot), and a smoothie bar.  There would be flowers and plants that fill the air with sweet aromas so that you won’t smell that disgusting stuff they flush your port with.  It would be amazing!  It would be perfect.

Here are some rooftop bars and gardens to inspire the kind people at NYU.

The London, Hollywood.  Photo from telegraph.com/uk

The London, Hollywood. Couldn’t you just imagine getting your infusion in one of those comfy chairs under a tent? And instead of a pool, a cooling stream to soak your feet. Photo from telegraph.com/uk

Sugar, Hong Kong.  What a great way to get your chemo surrounded by all of your chemo buddies!  Photo from cnn.com

Sugar, Hong Kong. What a great way to get your chemo surrounded by all of your chemo buddies! Photo from cnn.com

Spa Bar, Stockholm.  I think I would love getting an infusion in a cushioned bubble swing!  But that's just me.  Photo from cnn.com

Spa Bar, Stockholm. I think I would love getting an infusion in a cushioned bubble swing! But that’s just me. Photo from cnn.com

St. Luke's International Hospital, Tokyo.  At least one hospital is doing it right!  Photo from Huffingtonpost.com

St. Luke’s International Hospital, Tokyo. At least one hospital is doing it right! Photo from Huffingtonpost.com

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore.  What can I say that this picture doesn't say on it's own?  Photo from cnn.com

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore. What can I say that this picture doesn’t say on it’s own? Photo from cnn.com

Green Intercontinental Resort in Sanya, Hainan, China.  It has it's own freakin' beach!!!!!!!  Photo from greenpeace.org/au

Green Intercontinental Resort in Sanya, Hainan, China. It has it’s own freakin’ beach!!!!!!! Photo from greenpeace.org/au


Leave a comment

Survey

Hello fellow breast cancer friends!  I have been contacted by Liane Kandler from the Cancer Knowledge Network about posting a link to her survey for her doctoral study about young adult cancer.  In my opinion, anything that I can do to help deepen and broaden the knowledge of young adult cancers and the effects on our lives, is of the utmost importance.

Thank you, Liane, for contacting me and thinking of my blog and my readers for this survey.  Below you can read about what Liane has written about the survey.  Let me know if you take it!

“Were you diagnosed with cancer as an adolescent or young adult, between the ages of 13 and 39? Are you now over the age of 18? Liane Kandler (Doctoral Student, Lakehead University, Canada) created an online survey to try and understand the impact of cancer and would like your input. Email aya.oncology@gmail.com for more information on how to complete the survey or visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AYAresearch Participants will be entered into a random prize draw for one of three prizes: a personalized iPod nano in the colour of choice, a Kindle e-reader, or a $100 VISA gift card!”


6 Comments

Survivor? Who, Me?

From Steven King's, The Stand

From Steven King’s, The Stand

Just a few short weeks after my diagnosis and mastectomy, I attended the Stupid Cancer conference here in NYC that an old friend helped get me in to.  Being an cancer newbie and in the throws of information overload, the beginning of treatment and with more looming on the horizon, I was overwhelmed and frightened.  One thing that took me by surprise and it happened almost immediately as I walked through the glass doors into the conference center was that I referred to as a “survivor.”  I was confused and shocked by this.  “No, no, no,” I thought!  “I’m not a survivor.  I was just diagnosed!  I just had my breast removed.  I have cancer!  I’m not a survivor!”  But it took me all of an hour there to realize that anyone who attended, regardless of where they were in their cancer process was referred to as a survivor.

The word survivor has never sat well with me.  I don’t feel like I’ve survived anything.  Maybe it’s because I’m just out of treatment as of a hot second ago and still going to the hospital for my clinical trial and physical therapy, I feel like I’m still trudging along.  I know I have been through so much but I still have so much more to go.

The first Sunday of every June is National Cancer Survivors Day so this Sunday, June 7 is the day of celebration.  According to the “Official Website Of National Cancer Survivors Day” a survivor is “anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”

For the remainder of life.

Just the idea of having to call myself a survivor makes me feel like Atlas with the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I have to carry that label with me for the rest of my life?  Well, maybe I am a survivor.  One dictionary defines it simply as, continuing to exist.  I guess I’m doing that but aren’t we all?  Further down it also defines survivor as one who continues to function or prosper despite many hardships.  I have done this as well, I suppose.  But “survivor” is a loaded word.  It has a subtext.  I can’t quite put into words why it feels like that for me or what exactly the subtext is, but it’s there.

Anyway, I don’t feel like a survivor.  I don’t feel like a warrior.  I just feel like a have been put in a shitty situation and I did what I had to do to get myself out of it.  I don’t even know if I”m totally out of it.  I still feel stuck and dragged down.  Am I living and surviving despite feeling like crap, being poisoned, being put into menopause, having a body part amputated…?  Yes, I am.  But not happily.  I’m not a peace with it.

No, I’m not ready to call myself a survivor.  Not until this experience is long behind me.  Far, far behind me.

The low lands call
I am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer

The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend

I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate

I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plane

I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending

I choose the mountain

Howard Simon