Wednesday, December 22, 2010
It has been an absolute whirlwind since my last post! In a sales position, the 4th quarter is always the busiest - the final push to close deals in time to count them in the current year, before the clients leave for holiday vacations.
And in the background, important things have been happening. My guest post on SUCCESS, my word of the year for 2010 is up on Christine Kane's blog today. Writing it gave me a chance to reflect on this amazing year. The year I learned how successful and resilient I already am, the year I was pushed out of one job right into the job I always wanted on Wall Street, the year I got officially published as a haiku poet, the year I strengthened connections with people who nurtured me, the year I got rid of things that didn't serve my essential self.
It will also be the year my new White Dog Haiku website goes live (any moment now!) which will include my new blog called "write here, right now" where I will be talking about my passion for haiku, children's book writing, other authors/poets I've had the privilege of meeting, my tips on writing haiku with pointers to great resources like Berry Blue Haiku, and how I've used haiku with kids of all ages.
I am stepping up in a big way in all facets of my life and I thank you, faithful readers, for taking that journey with me and supporting me every step of the way. So if you haven't already done so, go read my post on SUCCESS and hang on for the ride because 2011 is almost here!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
One of my friends and mentors, Christine Kane, has written an ezine article that says it all. With her permission, I have copied it here. Be grateful for all that you have and experience more happiness and wealth than you've ever known.
Why Gratitude Makes You Happy & Wealthyby
Gratitude is more than being thankful one day a year. Gratitude is a practice. For some, it's a way of life.
Why do some people swear by the practice of gratitude? Why do these people have joy-filled and abundant lives?
In other words, why does gratitude make you happy and wealthy?
• Because gratitude is about presence.
It's about waking up in this moment and being here - really being here - and noticing what's around you. Most people are so busy thinking about the next thing, or about their horrid past, that they don't wake up and look around at their present moment - the only moment there is.
• Because gratitude is about honoring YOUR precious life.
Do you ever compare your life with someone else's? Do you ever wish your life were better and more like [insert famous person's name here]? Sometimes we can lose ourselves in wondering how we "measure up" to some standard set by our families or by the media. Comparison is the mind killer. The antidote is gratitude.
Gratitude requires that you validate your own life. (And you really don't have any other life, do you?) It forces you to say YES to the gift that is you. The choices you've made and the changes you've gone through -- they have brought you here. Even if here is a place that needs a little adjustment, that's okay. There are always gifts in any present moment.
• Because gratitude is about attracting.
It's difficult to attract abundance and joy if you are constantly saying "no" to what IS. You say "no" each time you focus on the future or past, or when you criticize something that is in your present moment.
Attraction is about saying Yes. When you say Yes, you shift.
Gratitude says, "Yes, I love this!" And then more of this is attracted, because the this is what you're focusing on.
• Because gratitude is about choice.
How you translate any situation is the situation. What you choose to see is the truth (for you).
This isn't proposing that you live in denial or phoniness. It's reminding you that your translation of any life situation is your choice. We've all heard stories of people who have ignored others' translations of their talent, their projects, their art, their looks, their lives. These people chose their own translations and succeeded. You always have a choice when it comes to how you look at things. Choose to choose gratitude.
• Because gratitude is about wisdom.
I think people believe they're being smart if they criticize, complain, and focus on the problems of the world around them.
But not wise.
It is wise to look for and find the knowing place in your heart. It is wise to choose joy. It is wise to honor your riches. It is wise to focus on and grow the blessings of your life.
• Because gratitude is about recognition.
Use your power of focus to hone in on beauty and on what makes your heart sing. Recognize the spirit in your life. It's all around you waiting to be noticed. In the words of Franz Kafka, "It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
• Because gratitude is about receptivity.
Gratitude makes you receptive. It makes you a vessel, waiting to be filled.
I carry a tiny notebook with me everywhere I go. In it, I write down song ideas. I write down quotes I hear. I write down ideas for stage stories. As I do that, I become more receptive, and more ideas and songs come to me. It's a tool that says to my subconscious, "Send more my way!" And the subconscious always responds.
Gratitude is the same way. It says, "I am receptive! Send more!" And more arrives.
• Because gratitude is about creativity.
Creativity is really all about attention. (So is genius.)
When I write a song, I build a relationship with that song. I spend time with it. I get to know it. I pay attention to it. Artists do the same thing with drawings. They spend time in rapt attention, and the drawing is born.
Gratitude is how we Live Creative. It is a creative act to notice and pay attention to the moments of your life. Some days it's an enormous act of creativity to find things for which to be thankful.
And have a Thanksgiving of presence, creativity, and gratitude!
Christine Kane is the Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. She helps women uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly LiveCreative eZine goes out to over 12,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at http://christinekane.com.
Monday, October 04, 2010
It almost feels like it was all a bad dream already and I just finished radiation a few weeks ago. I credit my successful breast cancer survival experience to a positive attitude, my robust support network and the top notch medical care I got from Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the radiation oncology unit at St Peter's in Albany. Here are some of my coping mechanisms for getting through it in one piece.
1. GET ANNUAL MAMMOGRAMS
After a suspicious spot on my annual mammogram that needed more study, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer Stage I in May 2010. Lucky for me, it was small and caught early so, according to my doctors, a lumpectomy and radiation would give me as much survival rate as a full mastectomy.
I had my lumpectomy and sentinel node surgery on June 15th, 2010. Although margins were all clear and no nodes were involved, one of the edges was too close for comfort. Because I wasn’t going to have chemo, my doctors highly recommended a second surgery to take more clear margin from that area which I had on July 6th. My radiation treatment, 28 to the full breast and 5 boost treatments just to the tumor site, ended on September 20. Since my tumor was estrogen and progesterone positive, I am now on Tamoxifen to shut down my ovaries for the next 5 years.
2. LEVERAGE YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
3. CONNECT WITH OTHER SURVIVORS
Connecting with other survivors helped give me perspective and remind me that I had control over my own treatment. One of my favorite tips was to fit cancer into my life and not try to fit my life into cancer.
- I sought out the best imaging specialist, surgeon and oncologist. A college friend pointed me to the Boston Breast Diagnostic Center in Wellesley MA when there was a chance a biopsy was needed. They were amazing, compassionate and had the most up to date equipment making the whole thing so much easier. Since advanced cancer research that Dana Farber Cancer Institute was able to apply to my sister's bone marrow transplant for Hodgkins treatment saved her life, I went straight there after my diagnosis. Feeling that I had the best care possible helped reduce worry.
- I chose where and when I would have my treatments. I scheduled surgery after a writing workshop I enrolled in and moved radiation treatments around as I needed to work around important meetings at work. Since radiation was a daily event, I needed to do that locally and not in Boston so I did my research and found the radiation oncology team at St Peter's Hospital.
- I opted out of chemo and oncotype testing. After seeing what my sister and other survivors went through, I didn't think a single percentage point better survival rate was worth the toll it would take on my body.
- I insisted on a Breast MRI even when my surgeon didn’t feel one was necessary.
- I started eating more cancer fighting foods, doing yoga and qigong, taking appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements and getting regular massage.
- I found the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness Site and PinkTogether communities where survivors shared their stories.
- I got a good comfortable well-fitting cotton support bra (two of them so one could be laundered while I wore the other) and wore it 24 hours a day. Title Nine had my favorite, the Quest Bra. I literally lived in this thing ever since the biopsy!
- I brought my own gown to the pre-op for surgery and radiation - a Jillie's. It's long sleeves, thick material and decorative style made me feel less vulnerable and more in control every step of the way.
- I put a big calendar up on the fridge and with a big red X crossed off each treatment as I finished it.
- I asked for (and took) Ativan the very last week of radiation when the burn was so painful on my sensitive skin that every time I even thought about another treatment that would make it worse, I broke down. Some people don't have much reaction to those "healing beams" but I sure did!
4. ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS
I asked a million questions. I reached out to friends who were doctors to get their opinions on what was being recommended to me. I reached out to survivors to find out what to expect of the next stage in treatment and tips for dealing with side effects. I prepared a list of questions for every doctor I visited along the way. I reviewed my questions with friends and relatives to make sure I didn't forget to ask something important.
5. TELL PEOPLE
And I told people. At first I thought I’d keep it to immediate friends and family but word leaked out and I ended up waging a fairly public battle on the internet and at work. I kept a journal from day one, updated my Facebook and Twitter status often, and wrote blog posts to keep friends up to date on my progress. The more people I told, the more encouraging stories I received back. There’s nothing like sharing personal cancer stories to deepen any relationship!
Together we are stronger! I am a survivor and happy to share my story! Let’s all work together to help other women and to find a cure for breast cancer.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
With three treatments left I have a bigger smile on my face than my delicious dog does in this photo!
Monday, September 13, 2010
- My wonderful David is now driving me to treatments every day so that if I need the Ativan I can take it....and I don't have to go in alone
- I've dusted off the oxycodone that I didn't need after surgery and am taking it before bed so that I get a full night's sleep.
- During the day I'm taking "Vitamin I" (ibuprofen) to keep the swelling/pain down as well as using the saline packs my nurses gave me
- I've got all of you in my court sending good vibes and notes and staying connected so I can ask for help.
- I've got all my pink stuff out to make me laugh and remind me of all of you.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I am all relaxed from a week of vacation, some fun events, and visits with good friends! I am rejuvenated and ready to dive back into work full of energy and renewed enthusiasm. It is amazing what time off does to the soul and the mind - and so important for all of us to indulge in every now and then.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The hummingbirds, on the other hand, have been everywhere! These little birds are amazing and beautiful. They hover right in front of us as if to say "thank you for the tasty nectar" as they make their way between the brightly colored flowers in pots on the deck and the feeders that David has been keeping filled with fresh sugar water. We delight in watching them play, chase and dive bomb each other to get the best spots on the feeder. We can pick out their unique chatter as they buzz around now and even see them in the trees when we look closely enough. They can live up to 12 years they say even with their long migrating treks to and from Mexico every year. They stock up on goodies now and hit the road soon for warmer climates south - resilience extraordinaire!
Speaking of resilience, I am well over my halfway point with radiation treatment now. I am keeping a calendar of appointments on the fridge and delight in crossing each day off with a big red X when I complete one. There are more Xes than not now and that means it will all be over before we know it. Monday they will do one more CT scan to make sure things are still all good with the mapping. The seroma caused by the surgery will hopefully have shrunk and they will be better able to target the site for the 5 boost treatments they will do just to the old tumor site at the end of the treatment schedule.
We are celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary and the 9th year since our first date began this month. This week we will spend a few decadent nights at Blantyre Castle in Lenox mid week and see Crosby Stills and Nash at Tanglewood.
We are so lucky to live in the amazing upper Hudson Valley. We have been devouring as much of the local summer bounty as we can get our hands on - like fresh farm eggs from chickens we know at Kinderhook Farm, deliciously ripened heirloom tomatoes in all sorts of wonderful colors, blueberries and peaches as sweet as chocolate, super sweet corn from Love Apple Farm, and all kinds of other fabulous veggies freshly picked from local farms like Hawthorne Valley Farm. Our good friend and Uplevel Coach Christine Kane has recently posted a great article on 22 Ways to Squeeze Every Last Drop out of Summer Before it Ends.
What will you be doing to take advantage of the last morsels of summer?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Until now I haven't really had any noticeable side effects but it's definitely starting to take it's toll. I realized that I can't drive up and down to NYC twice a week and have any energy left over for anything else....like the work I am driving down there to do for instance. I have to drive because the train schedule is not conducive to making a 3:15 appt (the last one of the day.) So mother nature is once again banging me over the head to tell me to slow down. To work from home more, prioritize things and go down once a week instead of twice a week until this is all over.
It's forcing me to ask for help too, something I have not typically been very good at. For my early morning appointments I ask David to drive me up and back. I am going to bed by 9pm these days too and taking a nap or two during the day when I can so he's doing most of the household stuff too. Thank god for a strong support network!!
So I am counting my blessings that things are rolling right along and keeping focused on that my treatment glass is 1/3 full! And I am doing as much as I can to make sure I am treating my body as well as I can as it's being barraged with radiation. I am taking probiotics, calcium, magnesium, fish oil and flax oil and doing my Qigong cancer fighting energy exercises. I have started drinking a barley grass cocktail every day, am eating healthy, using my new living water sticks and getting regular massages. I have connected with a holistic doctor at St Peters and hope to start some acupuncture soon as well. During every treatment I think about those radiation beams as a healing light coming directly from heaven through the machine to me. The tiredness is not unlike what you feel after a day at the beach. Nothing that a little extra sleep won't fix.
Before you know it, it will be Sept 20th when I'm done with all this!
Thanks for walking this journey with me. I can feel you all right here beside me!
Monday, August 09, 2010
Mondays I meet with the nurse and Dr. Gasson to check in on any side effects and my overall well being. So far nothing much - just a faint pink color starting to appear. They sent me off with some 100% aloe and aquaphore samples to use in between treatments. Nothing else is allowed except a good washing with unscented Dove bar soap.
Having the weekend off from treatments was nice. Saturday David, Islay bear and I explored Windham up in the Catskills. We stopped at some scenic view spots and took in the glory of the Hudson Valley.
We met up with some of our neighbors and went to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on Sunday night to hear the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma. What a wonderful experience! Talk about expanding one's musical horizons - most of this music has been around since ancient times and they use some ancient instruments as well - the sheng and bawu mouth organ was the most different looking but we also loved the gaita (Galician bagpipes), pipa and conch shell horn - and we got to experience it in this ultra modern setting at Tanglewood.
Many of pieces they do are commissioned works pulling together all these different sounds and genres. One of the quotes from the program really struck me - "we can better address our differences if we appreciate our commonalities." This sentiment applies to just about every situation but the commonality last night was the music - the same sounds heard by people around the world for hundreds of years and we were hearing it right then played by people from around the world. And an art director like Yo-Yo Ma with a vision to bring it all together. Really wonderful!
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
What a trip! The radiation machine is like a big robot moving about you as they guide it from the other room. The laser beams are lined up by the "tattoos" they mapped me with during the simulation last week. Today they just took xrays to make sure the depth and the alignment is right. Tomorrow the radiation begins. Each treatment only takes a few minutes.
One of my friends suggested that during each treatment I can meditate on it as God's energy being laser focused right where it needs to be to heal the area. I like that image!
Although the science of it all is rather astounding. Dave, the intern was there again as this is another teaching hospital. He's in from Syracuse University where he says the other students are jealous of his time at St. Peter's. It's apparently one of the top places in the nation for state of the art radiology technology. I don't know how they used to do it but I guess there must have been a lot of manual manipulation of the machines, not unlike a mammogram. Everything here is all automatic so that the beams will go exactly in the same place every day for six weeks.
They'll do another simulation halfway through to make sure things are still lining up properly. I am not supposed to lose (or gain) weight to keep things right where they were on date of the simulation.
The only thing I'm supposed to put on the area is 100% aloe vera to minimize any irritation. My wonderful husband David brought a small tiny aloe plant into my life when he moved in with me in 2002. This plant has grown huge, has had babies, and is now in two very large pots in the window in our bathroom as you can see. I was trying to figure out what on earth I'd do with them .... well now we've got just the healing job for them! Once again, no coincidence.
Nor was my sighting of the great blue heron that flew over my car on my drive up from the city today. Mom's with me. Always with me. Letting me know in wonderful ways.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Kelly has taken it a step further with a website called the Circus of Cancer where she posts videos, pictures, tips for how to help your friend with breast cancer. And it is this last piece I feel most compelled to write about today.
I think Kelly must know you all.
She somehow saw that you all flooded my inbox and mailbox with cards, letter, emails, phone calls, texts.
She must have listened in on our phone calls as you asked about David and called him too knowing he was going through this right along with me.
She has to have watched as you sent me referrals of doctors, survivors, websites, books, resources, connected me with college buddies who are now breast surgeons or functional medicine MDs and were there to answer my every question any time I needed another opinion.
She certainly laughed along with me as you sent St. Peregrine medals and lucky charm necklaces right off your own necks, funny old photographs, gifts of your own handmade art including sculptures with hopeful words on it like Success, Abundance, Love, and Hope, a cute stuffed dragon names "Scorch", a pink ipod shuffle loaded with the King Singers, a whole set of silver and pink jewelry and a giant box of pink stuff - bags, notebooks, journals, pens, toothbrushes, pink linen tops that buttoned down the front, soft t-shirts, pashminas, pretty slippers, aviator sunglasses with pink rims .... all with funny post it notes about what each item was for including a pink ring that said "you may want to wear this on your middle finger." The picture of me above is me in the hospital waiting room with my sister Cindy between procedures wearing or holding as much of it as I could.
She was there as you offered help of all sorts - from making dinner to celebrating the small victories with champagne to taking in our mail or watching our dog when we were in Boston, to weeding our garden, doing laundry and cleaning up when I couldn't lift things after surgery, tips on what to eat/not eat, sharing your own stories or simply just listening to me without ever once forcing a cancer conversation or pushing advice.
And she must have felt it when you visited me, hugged me, sent me positive energy, let me know you were with me every step of the way.
So thanks for channeling Kelly Corrigan and doing all the things you're supposed to do when your friend has cancer.
I get "mapped" on Monday with tiny tattoos to guide the beams and radiation begins the following week at St Peter's hospital in Albany NY. They say I might be a little tired like after an all day visit to a beach but I am not scared of this part of the treatment at all. It will be inconvenient for trips to the city for work but is coming at a time when things are slower there anyway as clients and colleagues take much deserved vacations.
Monday, July 12, 2010
I'm feeling great and barely remember I even had surgery. We had friends over this weekend to celebrate with a little bubbly, a great BBQ, and did a little retail therapy at Macy's where there was an amazing annual sale going on. Of course most of the things I bought weren't off the sale rack but I did balance them out a little with a few real bargains. Other friends came by with a freshly baked batch of local blueberry muffins and hugs.
Now all that is left for me is the 6 weeks of radiation and a five year regiment of tamoxifen. I've met with Dr. Gasson at St. Peter's just two days after my reexcision and am scheduled to be mapped on July 26th and start the preventative daily treatment on August 2nd.
I have been fortunate to be connected with several breast cancer survivors this week who also had their treatment in Albany - one who went to my very same radiology oncologist and loved him. They were glad to hear that I am keeping the power over what is done to me and researching options over and above what the MDs are telling me is best. One of the women found a place in Schenectady that does IGRT - a technique that preserves healthy surrounding organs more than the traditional method. I am looking into this and will let you know what I discover. For now though, I am happy with where I've landed and ready to complete the final treatment steps to keep cancer at bay.
I am also exploring Traditional Chinese Medicine to assist with whatever side effects might befall me. This I would have done anyway as I am nearing that age where you don't need Radiation or Tamoxifen to get hot flashes.
I've gotten lots of suggestions for books to read about breast cancer (Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book) and how others have dealt with it gracefully (Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place) which are now sitting by my bedside but the one I'm devouring right now is the old favorite The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup. There are so many wonderful tips in it for foods to eat/not eat, herbal options including Chinese medicine for easing the symptoms and maximizing the power of the rewiring that is happening inside our bodies at this time. We are all scared of this menopause thing but Dr. Northrup maintains that this is a healing time when women stop thinking about others and can finally focus on themselves ... in a real brain-to-organ physical way. Unresolved issues may manifest themselves in maladies (like breast cancer) but in the healing of the disease we have a chance to heal the underlying issue.
For me one issue that has resolved itself through this process is my unhealthy fear of hospitals. When I was 2 years old I was hit by a car when sledding at a relatives house and spent two weeks recovering in a hospital. My mother was in another hospital in another city having my sister Karen so the trauma of being in a hospital over night alone was compounded by not being able to see my mother during the day. The result was that walking into a hospital ever since has spiked my blood pressure and anxiety levels.
Now my sister is calling Brigham and Women's "my hospital" and my husband is telling me what a good patient I am. I don't need to hold anyone's hand or have an entourage go with me for my doctor's visits. I write down all of my questions ahead of time and get what I need to out of each visit. I find out just what I need to about procedures that will be done yet I know when I've had enough and don't need to hear the gory details. I even chose to have this last surgery done with a local anesthesia and would do it again.
I hope that my story can help others deal with their diagnoses. Each of us handles this stuff differently and there's no one way to do it. But knowing others have come out the other side in tact and that there are options can help ease the anxiety. We have the power to heal ourselves, I truly believe that and it's more than just the healing of the medical challenge. One of my wise friends on learning of my journey said "you know a new level of courage and joy these days, don't you?!" She is so right!! Menopause? Bring it on!
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
My "second carving" is over and was a piece of cake. I showed up at 6am at Brigham and Women's hospital yesterday for my 7:30am surgery, was headed home by 11:30am and climbed into my own bed back in Ghent at 3pm. I was as calm as could be, especially after the versed and other goodies they put in that IV. The pink hospital slippers, pictured here, from my friend Kathy McSweeney Kelly cheered me up as I recovered. Much better than those boring old brown ones they gave me at the hospital!
Today I am feeling like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and ready to get back to work - emotionally anyway! I was going to take the week off but instead am working from home taking full advantage of technology like instant messaging, conference calls, blackberry to reintegrate into my job while letting the stitches fully heal.
My surgeon, Dr. Troyan from Dana Farber Cancer Institute, said that things went as planned, she got what she needed. She'll call when the pathology results are in to scientifically confirm it was enough clear margin to move on but basically she gave me the "all clear." This was considered minor surgery so they were able to use local anesthetic plus IV sedation leaving me fog free within a few hours instead of a few days.
I summoned all of your good wishes and positive thoughts to keep me calm despite the difficulty they had in finding a viable vein to use for the IV and the strangeness of feeling aware - and actually talking to them - as they wheeled me in and out of that operating room. At some point I must have gone out because I heard them asking me if I had a nice nap and a lot more time had passed than I thought.
It feels great to be on the other side of breast cancer. Radiation and tamoxifen are next but those are simply to guard against future cancers. Today, for the first time, I feel truly able to celebrate my cancer free status without caveat. I didn't realize how heavily the second surgery was weighing me down until it was over yesterday.
David and I will be married four years on August 11th and planning a semi-local romantic adventure to celebrate. We feel very blessed, are appreciating every moment on this earth just a little bit more and finding it easier to be fully present in each and every one of them.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This is clearly something huge to celebrate and you can bet that I am doing just that!! I celebrated with a trip to visit my aunts in Virginia Beach last weekend. I am continuing the celebration by recommitting to a healthy lifestyle, my exercise and yoga programs, filling our home with leafy greens, fresh fruit, whole grains and organic free-range everything. I am also adding regular oriental massage and looking into pilates as well as planning a killer 50th birthday culinary/wine adventure to Provence in 2012.
Yesterday at Dana Farber, we also discussed my recurrence prevention treatment and I feel empowered about my ability to choose what is done to me and my body. Although my two sentinel nodes were not involved as well as all my margins around the tumor, one of those margins was within 1 cm and considered "very close." I could have gone directly into radiation from here but because I am so young and have so many more years to thrive, my surgeon and oncologist strongly recommended we go back in to get a little more clear margin.
I decided to go with their recommendation so my second surgery is scheduled for July 6th at 7:30am back at Brigham and Women's Hospital. This will be a much easier surgery and require only local anesthesia plus IV sedation (similar to what you get at a colonscopy) so I'll be out of the hospital long before lunch, back in Ghent in time for dinner, and not have that two day recovery from general anesthesia. This made it much easier for me to decide to do the second surgery which will decrease my chance of recurrence. Since all my body's healing energies are already focused in this area from the first surgery, my healing from this second one will be even quicker than the last.
About three weeks after the surgery, I will have whole breast radiation daily for 6 weeks which I will do locally in Albany at St. Peter's Breast Center. There should be little to no side effects from the radiation or tamoxifen and I'll be able to still go into the city 2-3 days a week as normal. Since my tumor was estrogen and progesterone positive, I will also be starting hormone therapy and I'll be taking tamoxifen to block the estrogen receptors. Tamoxifen will help prevent my original breast cancer from returning and will also helps prevent the development of new cancers in the other breast.
There were no surprises from pathology but the size of tumor is just 1mm into the range they consider Stage II so the oncologist surprised me by bringing up the idea of chemo in addition to radiation. Adding chemo to my treatment would only increase my survival rate by a single percentage point over what I'm doing now - the lumpectomy/radiation/tamoxifen. Having seen what chemo does to the body, for me the slight increase in chance of recurrence from not doing it was not worth the havoc it would wreak on my quality of life. I chose not to go this route and hopefully this will be the last time I ever need to discuss chemo with my oncologist!
David and I both are appreciating and celebrating every moment even more now that I am a breast cancer survivor and as many of you predicted I am emerging even stronger and feeling more resilient than ever, ready to charge into each day with full intention and focus. I thank you all for taking this journey with me. Knowing you are all there with those positive vibes, prayers, mojo, light, love and support makes all the difference in keeping me positive and looking forward to the time when I would be cancer-free. That time has arrived and I hope you will all celebrate with me!!
I am a breast cancer survivor!!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
It's a glorious morning and I am once again sitting on Our Back Deck with Islay Bear. Relaxing, enjoying the view, healing. I walked the property this am to snap a few pictures of the wild flowers growing like crazy this year before David gets on the mower and cuts them down. The clover is just spectacular and attracting all sorts of bees and other insects to it. The small yellow butter cups and purple wild flowers are everywhere. There are major patches of wild thyme and wild black raspberries in places they've never been before. And all growing back after their hard winter. And I'm sure they will all grow back again stronger than ever after their pending "hair cut."
I feel some solidarity with them! It feels kind of like my comeback too. I am feeling better and better after surgery on Tuesday - a little discomfort still but I'm not even needing the CVS frozen pea ice packs anymore. Clever person who came up with that idea so we don't all have to use/waste real frozen peas anymore to get that perfectly molded ice pack.
My angels are all pampering me, not letting me lift or bend so as not to disturb the healing or stitches. Xiomara came this weekend to give David a break so he could work the Hudson-Chatham Winery tasting room for the Father's Day event. She was a whirlwind! Helping me do laundry, weeding the herb garden, sweeping the floors, tidying the rooms, scrubbing the stove, keeping me company and making the most delicious chicken and black bean dish for dinner.
I'm not even feeling the least bit nervous about the pathology results coming next week. I know they will show clear margins and no node involvement. And many of you have said your gut is telling you the same. It is a new normal after being diagnosed with cancer and I still have the radiation treatments to go through but I feel that the worst is behind me and celebrating every moment more than ever now. I could dwell on the "why me," be scared about surprises next week, or the knowledge that I am now higher risk for other bad stuff for the rest of my life but that won't serve me as well as being so thankful for all the things I have right here, right now. Like the beautiful wild flowers and black raspberries, my husband, my dog, my loving friends. This moment is the best of all!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Today I am giving thanks to all of you for all you've done to support me through this. Your prayers, light, love and good wishes worked!! I felt the calmest I have felt since diagnosis waking up yesterday morning knowing that it was all going to be over later in the day.
Dr. Troyan said the surgery went as expected, no surprises and that the nodes looked and felt normal. She took two sentinel nodes and the pathology results will be in in seven days or so. She'll call me then to go through them.
I am starting to feel human again after the anesthesia has mostly worn off and already beginning to eat normally! I don't even really need the pain meds and my sisters and husband and nieces and nephews are all pampering me. The pink clothing, notebooks, mens, pencils, hats, wine, journals, folders, jewelry are all around me representing all of you. Today a beautiful fruit basket showed up which we are all devouring. The tips I got from survivor friends and surgeons all helped to prepare me for what I was about to go through and how to ease my recovery. We now own three bags of Peas from CVS that are a cleaner version of using regular frozen peas to numb the area. I'm set with pillows for the car/seatbelt and proudly wearing my button down the front pink clothing.
I meet again with my surgeon/oncologist June 28th when we will map out my course of follow up treatment (likely to be 6 weeks of radiation up in Albany.) Next weekend my sister Karen and I will fly down to Virginia Beach to visit my mom's sisters. Flights and accomodations have all been booked.
Thanks so much for all you did to boost me up and send healing energies through the universe. You are all now listed in my gratitude journal.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I already feel like a survivor and cancer-free. I can see myself celebrating of negative results with friends and family although my lumpectomy surgery is Tuesday June 15th at 12:45 am.
Your emails and Facebook posts, cards and calls have done wonders for my psyche. I especially love the stories you all are telling me about your own or a loved one's successful battle with cancer. The survivor stories remind me how far treatment has come and how many before me are now thriving having been changed in a positive way by their experience.
I have been hard at work in New York City this week doing everything but thinking about cancer or hospitals or surgery. I'm going to a children's writing workshop all day Saturday. I've scheduled a 90 minute massage on Sunday before we leave for Boston. I've got lunch scheduled in Cambridge MA with some dear college friends on Monday.
And I'm already looking beyond surgery to give myself something else to focus on. My sister and I are planning a visit to see my aunts in Virginia Beach two weeks after the surgery where we plan to celebrate a successful surgery, hang, laugh, shop, visit, drink a glass of wine or two and remember my mom.
For the next week or so I will be putting my attention on healing and being a "good" patient. My support network is rallying around me to help keep me positive and the last thing I want to do is take anything out on them. I'd lie if I said I wasn't scared but I am ready for this. I am ready for it to be over.
I feel the universe reaching out to hold me up with all the light and love you are all sending me. I am literally warm inside with the energy of it. And soon I'll be sending it all back out with the celebration of being cancer-free!
Monday, June 07, 2010
It is a strange time between a cancer diagnosis and treatment, something I have recently found out first hand. Thankfully, I have done a lot of work this year that prepared me to put it in perspective and deal with this recent setback in the best way possible.
Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with Stage I Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer. It came out of the blue but was caught early via my annual mammogram. I was called back for a second scan to check a suspicious looking area and then they wanted a biopsy. At my wonderful friend Kathy Kelly's urging, I went to the amazing new Boston Breast Diagnostic Center in Wellesley MA to get a second opinion. I was sure Dr. Levin would tell me it was nothing and didn't need a biopsy but we moved right one from what she saw on the ultrasound. Even then I was sure the pathology would be clear. It was not.
There's a tiny mass, 9mm in size, looks to be contained and treatable via lumpectomy plus radiation. After the Breast MRI which supported the prior diagnosis and suggests that the lymph nodes are probably not involved, Dr. Levin said my experience should seem more of a nuisance than a treatment which was comforting to hear. I met with the surgeon and the oncologist about a week ago and they agreed with Dr. Levin's assessment and we put a plan in place.
My outpatient lumpectomy surgery is scheduled for June 15th, next Tuesday, at Brigham and Womens in Boston. My surgeon is Dr. Susan Troyan from Dana Farber, my oncologist is Dr. Ann Partridge and my patient advocates are my experienced cancer survivor sister Cindy and my wonderful husband David. I will stay with my sister Karen for the first few days after surgery and home with David and Islay Bear as soon as I feel up to the trip.
It is a very strange time between diagnosis and treatment but I feel that I am in the best hands I can be in medically and expect to be reporting that I am cancer free very soon. They say it will be about a week before we know how the pathology turns out - we're of course hoping for clear margins, no lymph node involvement and nothing more than they can see on the scans/MRI. I have a follow up meeting with the oncologist on June 28th to decide the course of radiation which I will do here in upstate NY locally.
The picture above is a picture of my new friend Amy Grimes' forearm just before she set out on the Relay For Life which of course brought tears to my eyes. I have been getting all sorts of cards, good luck charms, pink jewelry, uplifting emails, and cancer fighting eating tips from people which is helping keep me positive and focused on the amazing things I have in such abundance.
Please keep me in your prayers on June 15th and keep up with those annual mammograms, ladies!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Today's post is from Christine Kane's eZine and used with her permission. She is one of my favorite singer songwriters and life coach. She is wise beyond her years. I love what she has to say here in this short post about reinventing yourself and living authentically. Click HERE to see her speak about it in video form. And do sign up for her free teleseminar!How to Reinvent Yourself
by Christine Kane
There's change in the air.
More than ever, people are being called to stop living superficially, to let go of a life of "shoulds," and to create authentic purpose-driven days full of happiness, wealth, and spirit. Everyday and everywhere, women are reinventing themselves. It's almost as if it's impossible to stop this amazing flow!
And of course, there are many who might know this truth - but they hold back because they don't believe it's possible for them. (If this is you, then read on!)
I've been through two major reinventions. And I'm telling you from personal experience, it's not only possible - it's imperative to your happiness!
Reinventions are not just external. They often require huge paradigm shifts. In fact, true reinvention happens on the inside more than on the outside. (It just that by the time people start to notice you've reinvented yourself, they can only see the external changes!)
But it doesn't have to be dramatic or painful. In fact, my friends, it's quite a hoot! You'll thank yourself for it, I promise!
So, from Christine's "Been-There-Done-That" files, here are five tips for How to Reinvent Yourself.
1 - Use the Power of Intention
Usually, reinvention starts when someone looks around at her life and says, "Wow. This is NOT working. I am not happy."
The next step after that?
Intention. I LOVE and LIVE BY the power of intention. It's why the Uplevel Your Life Mastery Program begins with intention – and uses intention throughout the transformation process. Intention starts the ball rolling.
Ask yourself: What do I want to create more of in my life? Who do I want to BE? Use these answers to begin crafting an intention.
2 - Don't Wait for the HOW
Don't worry about HOW it's all going to happen. This will only stop you in your tracks. When we try to make the HOW happen, we aren't allowing the Universe (and our soul!) do its work. We're so busy opening up the oven to see how things are going, that nothing really gets cooking!
The true lesson of reinventing yourself is trust. You have to trust the power of your intention, and the power of this process. It's easier said than done, but it never stops being the ultimate lesson!
3 - Slow Down to Speed Up
After you set your intention, there might be a slow down period. That's because you have to let go of some of the old in order for the new to arrive. During this time period, most of the people in your life will think you've lost your mind. :-)
One of my self-reinventions was the transformation of my music career into an on-line model that included coaching and mentoring women. When I began this transition, I experienced one whole year of questions from my musician and songwriting friends: "Ohmigod, what's going on? You're NEVER on the road anymore!" They were downright worried for me.
I had to clear out the old. I had to slow down to speed up. The "slow down" period is why so few people want to reinvent themselves. It can be very uncomfortable to keep your focus on your intention, while everyone wants you to justify your choices.
(Trust me on one thing, okay? When things pick up again, everyone will want to know your secret! It will suddenly seem like you did it effortlessly!)
4 - Take Action
Slowing down to speed up doesn't mean you sit back and watch television. You must take action. You might feel, at first, like you're stumbling and fumbling - but a steady movement forward helps the process.
People who believe it's ALL about positive thinking are forgetting that human beings are meant to take action and use their bodies, too. Our bodies are a huge part of our powerful creative system! Use yours and take action!
5 - Get Support!
There aren't a lot of places in the mainstream world to find encouragement and wisdom when it comes to reinventing yourself. So, you need to seek out support! Coaches, mentors, books, audios – they are all terrific resources!
Don't try to do this on your own, okay?
In fact, here's a video I just created to speak about this very deep level of transformation! Click the link below to watch it – and then join me for a free coaching call!
Click this link
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:
F.R.E.E. subscription at http://christinekane.com.
Monday, May 03, 2010
Today's post is inspired once again by Christine Kane and her post on being true to your authentic self despite what the pesky old ego is trying to whisper in your ear.
I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the 100 authors featured at this weekend’s Hudson Children’s Book Festival with my “White Dog Haiku.” It was overwhelming to be surrounded by so many established authors and poets – and when I walked in to set up my ego said “Who do you think you are trying to pass off this little self-published book of haiku as a real children’s book?”
My table was located between two celebrity, award winning authors, Hudson Talbott and Alexandra Siy. OMG. Their tables were filled with award winning titles and kids, teachers, parents were flocking to them. It would have been easy to feel embarassed about my table with a single self-published paperback title. But I stayed in the moment and talked to every person who came by. They were attracted by Islay Bear’s cute picture.
I sold and signed 8 books, talked to kids about their dogs and the haiku they are writing in school, and had some of the most inspiring conversations with Hudson and Alexandra. They encouraged me to keep going and build on my White Dog Haiku. Kids love poetry and schools are always looking for speakers to come teach a module – this was evidenced by the fact that 30 kids came to my haiku reading session and the steady stream of them coming to my table. At one point my neighbors came in holding big signs up "I LOVE WHITE DOG" and "White Dog Haiku" (the picture above) making a big commotion and attracting lots of attention to my table.
Hudson and Alexandra pointed me to resources and offered their own help as mentors on my writing journey. Instead of being deflated trying to compare myself to others, I am even more energized at what I am putting out in the world.
I just submitted my haiku to a soon to be published online haiku magazine and in the next few months to some Children’s Book publishing houses. My first rejection came in very quickly from the haiku magazine editors the other day. My ego tried to say “See, you have no business submitting anything to anyone, you have no idea what you are doing!” But instead of closing my notebook and hanging up the pen, I researched what they were looking for in haiku. I read articles on writing haiku and trolled haiku websites and wrote and wrote. I submitted some more that I feel really good about. No rejection on those yet – I will let you know when I get officially published. It’s coming any day now. Despite what my ego says.....I am an author!!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The words in the picture above are words that are important to me. Go to Wordle by clicking on my Wordle to put in some of yours and create your own.
There's a gallery of Wordles that others have posted if you need a little inspiration. Have fun!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sue Ludwig, one of the people I met in Christine Kane's Uplevel Your Life and Business programs, has a wonderful post up on Christine Kane's blog today along with a poem that blew me away.
Do yourself a favor and click this link to read the full article on Christine's blog today "Fledgling to Flight: Why You Matter as a Mentor" and I will pique your interest by posting Sue Ludwig's amazing poem "Fledgling" she wrote for one of her mentors (with permission of course!)
In the light of possibility
And though I saw you clearly
with your half smile
and knowing eyes
I wasn’t quite sure
why you cared.
Now I realize
you lead from a place of
I see how your gifts,
because you have been a traveler
on this very road
you unselfishly guide.
I experience your strength as you hold
my best self for me
even when I’m a flightless baby bird.
You know the depth but see the buoyancy,
know the doubt but see the hope.
You show me through your life
that the road is winding, imperfect,
and every step of the way
worth the journey.
Sue Ludwig is the President and Founder of the National Association of Neonatal Therapists. She is a consultant to neonatal intensive care units around the country, a national speaker, and a published poet. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.
Friday, February 26, 2010
My life coach, Tonya Leigh Williams, has been encouraging me to chill out, stop racing, enjoy the slow period, notice how it feels to have time to just be and focus on being more fully present to the things that I am doing, notice how I feel – how my body feels – as each unfolds. She says that there’s no better way to make a difference in the world than to be more true to your essential self and just be that instead of worrying about what’s next on my plate.
So instead of using this Upword to get back into go, go, going I’ve used it to go more fully into each thing I am doing one at a time instead no matter how small.
I used to think that if I wasn’t busy something was wrong. Being a self starter, if it was slow I’d get out there and get things going. The quintessential “multitasker” … I’d get as many things going as I could …. usually unable to do anything very well.
But lately I’ve been focusing on being more present in everything I do. With the help of my life coach and Christine Kane’s UYL program I’ve been noticing not just “go, go, going.” I realized that this slow period at work gives me a chance to better connect with me and is all happening for a reason.
Early this week, I hosted a client at a great two day session on “Be Ready For the Future.” I focused on being fully present, taking in all the great content, listening to what my client thought of the sessions.
I left my PC back in the hotel room, kept bringing myself back to the present moment instead of letting my mind wander to a million different things. At breaks and mealtimes I spent it conversing with the speakers and my client about the topics that were just presented instead of stepping out to email or twitter or FB.
I learned a lot about the challenges my client was facing, what topics resonated and didn’t, and built a deeper relationship with her than I might have otherwise resulting in some meaningful follow ups to dive deeper into a few topics.
After the session was over, I had planned to drive into the city and stir some stuff up with my other clients, colleagues, anybody. Get those to dos flowing again, push along the new job. But as luck would have it the forecast was for big snows. We had already lost power at home and David was running the house on the generator we bought after last year’s ice storm. Something told me that I should drive back home and focus on us!
Good thing I did because the snows cancelled trains, messed up roads, kept people home. Instead of being stuck down there all by myself, I was able to go home and be with my husband, dog, neighbors and actually enjoyed “roughing it” together. The generator allowed us to work during the day but at night we turned it off and kept each other warm with body heat.
So here’s my call to action for you. Do it – stop racing, go more fully into each thing you are doing. Stop thinking about the next twelve to-dos on your list. Be comfortable if there are none on that list! Notice how you feel, what your body is saying as you experience each one. As you are being true to your essential self and showing up more fully to each moment you will learn more about that wonderful person you are too.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Lori Koop was asking for something a bit different though last week.She wanted us to reflect on what we thanked OURSELVES for. At first this didn't feel quite right to me. However it rang some bells and reminded me of posts I had recently read.
With the level of interest this topic is getting, it seems like this is something too few of us do but would benefit from doing more. The more I thought about it, I realized that if we aren't loving ourselves first, we block our ability to fully love others.
Emily Long, another UYB colleague and amazing poet in her blog Healing Pages had perhaps one of my favorite posts on the topic called "Gratitude for the One Person Often Overlooked." Like me, Emily reflects in her piece that "When the thought of putting myself on my list first popped into my head, I hesitated. It seemed a little self-centered or narcissistic to say I was grateful for myself."
I was right there with her. I thank everybody all the time and was actually excited to start a gratitude journal as part of Uplevel Your Life program homework. We all get so many blessings from the universe every single day that pulling out the top five is sometimes difficult for me, a 7 or “the enthusiast” on the enneagram. But putting me on the list? That wasn't even something I've even contemplated...until now.
Coincidentally, Tonya Leigh Williams, my fabulous life coach, has also asked us to reflect on this in her blog this month and has even come up with a fabulous free “A Girl After Her Own Heart” tool. Two of her morals on this self love lesson really resonated with me:
* You cannot expect someone else to recognize what you don’t see in yourself
* Self-love is the best gift you can give yourself and the world
Another one of our UpLevel Your Business colleagues and friend Stacey Curnow also recently had a great post called "Write a Love Letter to Yourself in 3 Easy Steps." Stacey remarks that when we don't focus on loving ourselves first, we aren't likely to be serving others from a place of joy and grace but instead from one of sacrifice and suffering.
Ok! Ok! I'm a believer now! It's important to be grateful to me too and appreciate the gifts I give myself and others.
So here goes – I thank myself for
* living, eating and drinking consciously
* always showing up with a positive attitude
* being there for my husband, sisters, neighbors, and knowing when to say no so I can still be there for me
* giving myself the space to let my creativity flow
* investing in myself with Uplevel Your Life and Luscious Lean Living programs as well as hiring Tonya Williams as my life coach this year
* caring enough about myself to get healthy, start an exercise program, go for regular checkups
* being open to the possibilities
* creating this warm, beautiful environment we call home
* adopting my wonderful dog, Islay Bear, from Westie Rescue
* giving myself the gift of yoga
* establishing and focusing on keeping worthwhile connections strong in life and business
* following through with self-publishing White Dog Haikus and launching my writing career
* filling my home and body with healthy foods
* the courage to eliminate things I have saved that no longer serve the me I want to be
What do you give yourself thanks for today? This week? This year?