The Beginning of the Bald and the Breastless

I celebrated the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by completing my 4th chemo treatment!!  Four down, two more to go!!!!

I have talked about wanting to do this blog since my very first surgery and learning that I knew nothing, NOTHING about breast cancer, other than the statistics that you read or hear about. Through my Dr.’s and their staff members advice, and the graciousness of friends of family and friends that have been willing to share their insight with me as I began this journey, it all has been a complete learning experience! I decided that I needed to make this blog a part of my journey, while hopefully helping others that are walking down this same path avoid tripping over the many obstacles that appear out of no where as you embark on this venture that you never in a million years dreamed you would be taking.

I need to begin by pointing out the obvious, I AM NOT A WRITER!  I’m sure that this was apparent by the time you made it to this paragraph!  I can claim to be many things, (and have been called many things), but a writer is not one of them!  So please forgive my rambling and just pretend that you are on the phone with a crazy old friend while you are sipping on a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine, because we all know that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere) as I share my whirlwind experiences with the overall intention that I can provide some helpful information to you or someone that you love, with maybe a smile thrown in here and there for good measure.

The Bald and the Breastless is not meant to make light of breast cancer!  It’s just my warped sense of humor at work.  Since my diagnosis, I’ve repeated to myself and others upon deciding my course of treatment that my breasts nor my hair define who I am as a person, so when I decided to finally get started on this blog,  the minute the title of The Bald and the Breastless came to mind, I laughed to myself and knew this had to be my title!

My faith and the power of prayer are extremely important to me and are a part of my daily life.  But I’ve also had cliche’ after cliche’ run through my mind since my cancer diagnosis as another way to help my feeble brain cope with the current state of my health and life…….”The early bird catches the worm.”  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” “This too shall pass!”  “Everything happens for a reason.”  and finally, what gets me through each day, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

This title is also a nod to my history of years of complaining when as it turns out, I really didn’t have anything that was really important to complain about!   I was born with curly locks that people have admired my entire life, but despite the envy, compliments, and life long question of “Is your hair natural? It’s just beautiful!”  l have always moaned, groaned, and complained about my “frizzy” hair that I could never do anything different with.  I always longed for beautiful, shiny, straight, glamorous hair.  When my hair started falling out by the handfuls within two weeks of my first chemo treatment, I couldn’t help but laugh (with a few tears thrown in to prove to myself that I’m not completely crazy) about the years of complaining about my hair!!

I also inherited ample breasts.  For years I’ve heard (and contributed to), the big boobs jokes.  I’ve complained about the cleavage, about clothes not fitting correctly, about my back and neck aching, about not being able to sleep on my stomach, yet bragged that I could never drown because those suckers would always keep me afloat!  One of my best friends of 45 years, Gina, had even larger breasts, so I have taken great pleasure in picking on her over the years since she could commiserate with me.  A few years ago, we even discussed going in as “buddies” and getting a breast reduction done at the same time, but the more we researched it, we discovered that the typical surgery required that your nipples to be removed during the surgery.  We both agreed that we weren’t going to voluntarily go under the knife and have our nipples cut off and placed on a surgical tray!  We joked about the various scenarios, that with our luck, would happen to our loose nipples.  We had numerous laughs about this during our many late night phone conversations.  I have to admit, we’ve had a few laughs about those very conversations again over the last few months as well!!

Since my diagnosis, I am repeatedly praised for my positive attitude, but I’ll be the first to tell you, it is for the sake of my mental health that I MUST try to find the silver lining to make sense of it all.  The way I look at it, I wasn’t given a choice of whether I got cancer or not. That hand was dealt to me, but what did become my choice was my course of treatment, and how I chose to mentally deal with this horrible, ugly ass disease! I could either fall apart and potentially slip into a deep depression, or I could choose to be thankful for everyone in my life that gives me strength, and fight through this with a positive attitude.  My choice was a no brainer!

I am very blessed to be married for 32 years to Greg, my rock of a husband that refuses to let me mutter anything other than “We’ve got this!”  I just lied. He will let me slip in a “this just sucks” occasionally, but within a few seconds, he’s reminding me again that “We’ve got this!” And when he says “we”, he means it. He has been there by side to help me fight every step of the way!

I have the support of some great family members.  Notice that I didn’t say ALL of my family members, but doesn’t every family have a few rotten apples and wackadoos in the mix?

I also have fantastic friends!  I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve these people in my life!! They more than make up for the wackadoo family members!  I am touched and amazed daily by the outrageous support, laughter, thoughtfulness, and out and out love that I receive from all of these people that I’m so very blessed to call my friends!

Greg and I have two beautiful, young adult age children (Kailey is 21, Nick 18) that keep me fighting to get through this also.  They still need me! They miraculously always find a way daily to remind me how much they still need me, even if it’s just a subtle hint to let me know that they need a refresher course on how to get by. Things as simple as still not remembering to pick up their clothes, and understanding that the dishes aren’t meant to grow homemade antibiotics in, and that their bedrooms shouldn’t be classified as a hazardous waste facility. They even display the desire to be taught the simple little things in life repeatedly, like how to put their keys in the same location every time they walk through the door so they won’t have to spend the next three hours walking in circles, moving furniture that has been in the same location for over a year as they panic, repeating, “where did I put my keys?” . What would they do without me?  

My mother used to sing the song “Day by Day” as she cleaned or cooked when I was young. I never had an inkling how important that song would be to me so many years later, on so many levels!  As positive as I have remained throughout these last few months, I am honest when I say that I still have some pretty lousy moments. Wouldn’t getting stuck on a toilet because you can’t get up due to not being able to use your arms after a bilateral mastectomy cause most people to feel like they’re having a lousy moment?  I have my moment, and then I can’t help but laugh trying to envision what I must have looked like trying to get up!!  It’s during those lousy moments, then finding the laughs that follow that I hear mom’s beautiful voice singing “Day by Day”.  And that’s how I shall continue to fight this……..day by day.

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