My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


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On Making It To 40 and A Birthday Wish

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Today is my birthday.  Today I turned 40 years old.

40.

40!!!!

I hear that number and I feel conflicted.  On one hand, I don’t feel like I’m 40.  I feel more like 25, like I’m still finding myself and getting comfortable in my skin.  40 used to seem so old.  And I’m not old at all!  I still have so much to learn and discover.  I can’t be 40. On the other hand, I’ve made it to 40.  Just over two years ago, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.  I heard the word, “cancer” and didn’t know if I’d reach any milestone.  But here I am, and it seems to me that 40 is something to be celebrated.

I wish I have given some thought as to what I want to define the next decade of my life.  Beyond being surrounded by my loved ones, creating theatre and traveling, I don’t know what I want.

I do know that I want this year to be filled with the new; new restaurants, new routes through the park, new travels and more.  I want to expand myself.  I want to grow.

You all know that I am not a “cancer is a gift” kind of gal and yet, I feel as though I have been given a gift to continue into this new decade.  When so many of our brothers and sisters have been lost to cancer’s oppressive power over our bodies, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that, in many ways, I am one of the lucky ones.

I have but one birthday wish from all of you.  Many of you who are reading this went to school with me, which means that this is the year that you also turn 40.  The American Cancer Society has decided that women who are not high risk for developing breast cancer begin mammograms at age 45 and those with family history and other risk factors begin at age 40.  I have mentioned on this blog before my dissatisfaction with these new guidelines.  As a young breast cancer survivor who found the lump through a self exam, I think we need more tools and resources, not less.

So, what I want from all of you, women and men (yes, men get breast cancer, too), is for you to feel your boobies.  Know your body.  Know what is normal for you so that you can identify when something is wrong.  Advocate for yourself.  If you feel that you need a mammogram, find a doctor who agrees with you and get one.  Do it every year.  Every. Year.  Feel your breasts every month.  Every. Month.

If 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, then I am not the last one that I know who will go through this ordeal.  We need to be vigilant, to do the best for our bodies that we can so that we can remain as healthy as we can.  We need to educate ourselves and each other and support one another.

So please, this year, get schedule and go to your mammogram (it’s not that bad) and learn how to do a self breast exam.


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A Letter To Oliver On His Fourth Birthday

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Dear Oliver,

I think I start every year by telling you that you are the light of my life.  This year is no different.  It’s amazing to me that I can be just as in awe of you, if not more so, as the day you were born. I feel like you are the same incredible little boy that you have always been, but now you are a year older.

This is the year where I feel like you have really become a little boy.  You have strong opinions and wants.  You speak with so much expression.  You are dramatic like me.  Your talents are starting to show.  I’m getting a glimpse of the person you are going to be.

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You still love to make people laugh.  You like to make up stories and words.  You like to dance around making funny sounds.  You like to call people silly names.  Your number one goal in life is to see people, especially me, laugh at your jokes.  And you truly are funny.  When we came home from parent teacher conferences this year, we said, “Your teacher said that you are doing a very good job at school,” to which you replied, “And they said that I am a funny guy?”  They did, in fact, say that.  They said that they whole class laughs at your jokes and that several of your friends said that you are the funniest person they know.

 

You continue to be one of the most gentle, kind hearted people I know.  You are always taking care of me.  After my surgery this year, you never left my side.  You would walk me to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to walk alone.  “Walk slowly, mama.  Be careful.”  And you wouldn’t leave me until I was safe back in bed.  You always ask about my “swollen arm” and kiss it to make it better.  You are still trying to wrap your head around the fact that I will have this condition my whole life and that a kiss doesn’t make it all better.  But that doesn’t stop you from trying.  You are always talking about friends who have felt sad or angry during the day and how you have hugged them to make them feel better.  Your love is what this world needs.  I think when you grow up, your love and caring for others will be the thing that shapes who you are.  I think you are going to change the world!

This year you have become more adventurous.  You like roller coasters and other rides.  You like to run right into the waves at the ocean, even in your clothes in the cold weather.  You take risks that you have never taken before.  It’s awesome to watch you push your limits and discover that you can do things you never thought possible.  You are beginning to understand that taking risks can reap rewards.

You still are obsessed with trains.  You like other things like blocks, legos and puzzles but you are passionate about trains.  You love learning all about them, from old steam engines to modern bullet trains.  You can’t get enough!

You have learned so many new things this year.  A few of them are…to put on  your clothes and shoes by yourself, to poop in the toilet, to write your name, to begin to read and spell, to add and subtract, to put a puzzle together by yourself, to ask life’s deep questions (“Am I going to die?”  “Why am I here?”  “How was I born?”  “Why does night happen?”  “Why does the mood follow us?”), to use big words like, “frustrated,” and “deflated,” to gallop, to sing whole songs that aren’t nursery rhymes (“Let It Go”), to reenact parts of the musical Oliver, for which you are named, and to make yourself cry on cue.

You love to play with your trains, take train rides, go to the park and run around, ride on your scooter, play with your friends, play with babies, go to school, sing, make up songs and eat sweets.  Your favorite books are The Big Book of Trains, Insects, Snakes, Train Song, The Gingerbread Man, How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?, The Three Bears,  and so many more I can’t even remember them.  Your favorite foods are muffins, lollipops, pancakes, runny eggs, peas, corn, turkey burger, tortellini, ham and cheese sandwiches, ramen (not the cheap, $1 kind but the real stuff), grilled cheese, mac and cheese, ice cream, bananas, grapes and blueberries.  You love to bake with daddy.  You are starting to love the arts; singing, dancing and acting.

I am proud of you every single day.  There isn’t a moment that goes by where I don’t realize how lucky I am to have landed a son like you.  You are my everything.  I love you to the moon and back, the stars and back, the planets and back and the galaxies and back.

Happy 4th birthday!


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A Letter To Oliver On His 2nd Birthday

Dear Oliver,

I can’t believe that exactly two years ago, 16 days past your due date (I cried every one of those days because I ached to meet you) you came into my life and changed it forever.  You made entering the world difficult so I couldn’t hold you at first. But when they got you I heard you crying.  I called to you, letting you know that I was close by.  Your crying stopped.

IMG_4129The first thing that I remember about you is that you had your Daddy’s nose, my pout and that before you started to cry, you would snort like a little piggy.  I nicknamed you, Piglet.  We fell in love with you instantly and you made us into a new family.

new familyIt wasn’t very long before your personality started to spring out of you.  You would just smile and make the funniest faces, as if you wanted to make the world laugh, something you love to do now.

IMG_1924 IMG_2238 IMG_1394The thing I love about you most is that you are gentle and caring beyond your years.  I don’t know of any other baby who would be so patient and understanding of his mother’s ailing needs.IMG_5234We are a perfect pair.  I was meant to be your mother and you were meant to be my son.

IMG_0973 IMG_4656 IMG_3477 IMG_3024 IMG_6939 0006 IMG_5606You love to make jokes and make everyone around you laugh.  You love to eat applesauce, granola, peas, chicken, blackberries, apples and cookies but you’ll try almost anything, even foie gras!!!!  Your passion are NYC subway trains.  You know almost every line by letter and color and beg every day for a ride.  We try to oblige.  You also love singing your abc’s and counting to 10, even though you’ve made it to 15 a few times.  You love to run up and down hills screaming, “Yay!  Alright!” over and over again.  You love your friends and never hesitate to give them a hug or a tickle.  Your favorite books are, Subway, Goodnight Moon, Play and Learn Slide and Find ABC, Yummy Yucky and No No, Yes Yes.  You give the best snuggles and each one is never long enough for me, but I always agree to let you go.

These last two years have been the best of my life and I can’t wait to experience the next one.  When you are two, you will go to school for the first time, learn to speak full sentences and be able to jump, all things you are working so hard on right now.

Thank you for letting me be your mother and sharing your joy with me every day.  No matter what life may bring, I will move mountains to be with you.  Overcome every struggle.

I love you!  Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mommy