Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stomp on it!

  The huge "CANCER CENTER" sign I walk under every day isn't as huge any more.  Really.  Just this week, I did a double-take and actually thought they replaced the ominously large letters with smaller ones!  I think that means something.  It means something to me.  I'm not as scared anymore.
  I haven't written in a whole month...since a week after my last chemo treatment.  I want to say there's not much to write about, but that's not true.  It's just that the changes and the effects are much more gradual, so they're not as alarming or terrifying.  Kinda like when the big hairy spider is in a locked-tight glass case.  While staring into it's beady little eyes, you plot it's horrific, blood-spattered death, and the bottle-cap sized monster doesn't seem so scary anymore.  Cancer is the scariest spider I've ever seen, but the "medicine" is making sure that little bugger doesn't lay any eggs to haunt me after it's gone!
  I marked my six months from diagnosis with my third week of radiation.  Radiation, BTW, is a pain in the butt.  It's not even close to the literal pain of chemo, but it still sucks.  It's like having to go to the grocery store- every day.  The actual treatment takes a few minutes, and it's just zapping an 8" by 8" square of my chest, but I have to drive there, park, check in, change into a robe, wait for my turn, get in position, time the radiation buzz, change back, and then drive home.  Don't get me wrong...I love visiting with the other "radiant" people, and I love the crew that makes me feel like I'm not just another five minute victim on the bug-zapper.  But I just finished #17 out of 30, and it's beginning to seem like that fancy new dishwasher that was fun to load the first ten times.
  I don't know if radiation is affecting me, because I still blame every little weird thing on chemo.  My muscles...every muscle...feels like I had a tough weight lifting workout three days ago.  My back aches, and even stretching makes me feel the fatigue in the muscle.  It's not so bad!  I get the feeling of working out, without actually doing it!  Really, I just figure the poison is working it's way out of my system, including the steroidal anti-nausea medications that affected my muscles.  The actual radiation has caused a big square sunburned heat rash that itches like crazy.  It doesn't hurt, but it itches, and is pretty dang ugly.  I can't hide it with makeup, because the makeup might contain aluminum or other metals, that act like foil in a microwave.  I can't wear anti-perspirant either (and trust me, the organic stuff doesn't work as well!)

Getting Radiated!

  I also feel a little more like me every day.  My head is clearer, and I feel like I'm a bit more "Mary the smart-aleck" each morning.  Ron and Casey had better look out!  I'm still tired of gluing on my eyelashes every day, and of wearing a wig, but I know that won't be forever!  Some good news is, I get to skip two radiation sessions to go on a family vacation to Orlando (for my daughter's volleyball team to compete in a national tournament) but I have to leave after they do, and come home before they do to make my appointments.  Hey, the sooner this is over, the better!
  The kids are out of school for the summer, volleyball camps are already starting, basketball and baseball games await this cheering mom, we need to get our 15-year olds their driving permits, we get to go to Harry Potter World, and I will follow the protocol recommended by my smart doctors.  And all of this will happen as I watch the "Cancer Center" letters get smaller and smaller.  It does mean something.  It means we're winning.


  1. Yes you are winning and that's a good thing.. It's also great that your making, should I say a big deal out of this so that other ladies will take note and get a check up soon. Far to man ladies dieing from breast cancer.
    The 8X8 area will probably itch from time to time for ever.. I had kidney cancer 40 years ago and mine still does..
    Carry on your great work and see ya at 5 in the morning..

  2. You are finding the light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going towards the light because there's a whole new world waiting for you to embrace! Congratulations on making it this far!

  3. You are inspiring to watch and learn from. Thank you for helping put a beautiful face to an awful disease and doing it with grace. We watch you in the mornings and wish you the best! Oh, and my family just went to Harry Potter World today and enjoyed it tremendously! Make sure you get the frozen butterbeer... Its awesome!

  4. Lovely Mary...reading your words and your +++positive+++ attitude give me strength and I'm not even going through anything like cancer. Thank you for sharing your experience, wisdom and humor. We're all better because of it. I keep you in my prayers. Enjoy your summer plans. Triple arm pimps (I like to say pimps rather than makes me giggle) to those letters on the sign looking smaller! Pretty soon you'll have to walk right up to it to make sure you're reading it right. TONS OF HUGS!!

  5. I've been following your battle...through your blog, your morning show, the race for the cure...and I've hesitated to write...because I don't know you (but I saw you in Smith's with your cute family and you smiled at me...does that count?!) and posting to someone you don't know..seems kind of odd...but I decided that I wanted to let you know how you have handled this with grace, humor and class!!! I seriously doubt that you will ever know how many lives (like mine) that you have touched. We will probably never meet...but because you've always shared a little bit of yourself with seems like you're the girl next door. We spend our summers in I don't get to see you in the mornings...but please life is richer because of you...and no matter where I am, good thoughts and prayers are being sent your way. You are the BEST...and should I ever have to go through this journey (my mom passed away from breast cancer before there were such great treatments)...I would want you on my team !!!! Thank you for being Mary!!

  6. You are doing so great! I was wondering, can you use baking soda for a deodorant? I dont know what its made of, but Ive always heard that if you put a little in your bath, then just powder it under your arms a little, eventually you wont have a need for anything else!

    Good luck to you, and get well soon!

    Lynne from Missouri

  7. Mary, I admire your strength, & your positive attitude through your cancer treatments. Thanks for sharing your insight through your experience. May everything continue to go well for you.
    Sheryl Groneman

  8. Mary, I just found your blog thru Facebook, I was diagnosed either colorectal cancer on March 7th 2012, only been on my journey for a short time, I was finishing my radiation when you started yours. I am currently on a break from treatment so I can gain strength for surgery, I will end up with a permanent colostomy bag, on Monday, June 18th. The reason I write this is because in your bio it states you worked in Yamima Washington, I grew up in Prosser Wa. Lived there for 20+ years, graduated in 88. Are you from Wa? Would love to take this convo off line to respect privacy, you can reply back via email. I don't have a blog, this was the first time I have put into " written" words that I have just seemed not real until I wrote it down... Ooffala, that was tough

    1. I sent you a message. I hope you won't mind.

    2. No prob at all Cathy, I will respond tomorrow, having an off day today.

  9. Good work Mary. Love the new pics. You're inspirational. Thank you for blogging your experiences.

  10. I love your posts. They help me deal with the chemo, (I'm done!) and make me realize that how I feel is the same as how othrs feel that are doing the same thing. I don't have to do radiation so I'm thankful for that but I'm so tired I can't really "jump for joy" like I'd like to. But, I'll stay up with your posts and keep myself "up" from them! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Dear Mary,
    I cry every time I read you blog I am so so happy for you, you look awsome good luck with the battle with cancer you are such an inspiration to us all my god be with you and your family and Good Luck at the Volleyball Games. With love and respect,

  12. Hang in there!
    I always tell people that chemo made me sick and tired; radiation just made me tired. Ha ha!

  13. I just finished 18 of about 36ish. I know what you mean about the muscle aches. I'm not sure if it is still the chemo after effects, or the Radiation, but I am exhausted too. I feel like overcooked energy at all. And yes, on top of that like I have overdone a workout a day or two ago, all through my arms and shoulders.

    But we are BOTH making it and we are both more than halfway through rads!. Ask for R1 & R2 cream from your Rads Oncologist if you haven't tried it yet, it is helping a lot on the burns for me (they are doing my whole upper quadrant including the skin on my back.) And also 100% pure aloe helps too (keep it in the fridge, the coldness is awesome)

  14. Mary I like the description of cancer being a locked up spider in a jar. I have been stressed for the last 2 weeks cause on Tuesday June 26th I go for my big one year follow up scans mamo blood work to make sure I am cancer free and I think that spider got out and hopefully I can lock it up in that jar after Tuesday. Glad to see you posted again, have a wondrful trip.

  15. I've nominated your blog for a Liebster Award. See what this means on my blog:
    And thanks so much for sharing your story!

  16. Way to keep up the great fight Mary! Glad to see a post from you with an update on your journey. I hope the best continues for you and that you are enjoying all the fun that summer is bringing you and your family. You go girl!

  17. This is a very informative post, thank you for sharing this information about breast cancer treatments. Good job. Glad to come across this post.

  18. Congrats! you have won the fight of breast cancer risk and recuperated well.happy for you.

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