An Update from the Internet Hypocrisy...
When I was eyeballs-deep in cancerland last year, I had an epiphany: I’d start a foundation! Geared toward young women of the Internet age who flock to message boards and WebMD when they notice weird things, the Pappenstance Foundation would exist to get those ladies off their computers and in to see a doctor. We’re all so different, with varied ways of explaining our issues, and the...
Life, Interrupted: All in a Day's Work →
Dozens of chemotherapy treatments and one bone marrow transplant later, I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the art of not working. My family and I were JUST talking about this—how cancer, with all its ugly accoutrements, also included a “gift” of slowing down.
Dear Cervical Cancer and Radiation After-Effects
Thank you, sincerely, for helping me get over my aversion to pooping in public. The often unexpected urgency you have bestowed upon me in the most public of places, including but not limited to Target, cafes and my office, has necessitated my very quick acceptance that I can - and must - broaden my Number 2 Network to outside the home. I don’t think I could’ve done it without you. ...
Following Up on Followups
My first followup pap smear two weeks ago was unexpectedly anxiety-inducing. I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to cry as we approached the UCSF cancer center, or why this little voice in my head whined, “I don’t want to BE here” as we sat in the waiting room. It wasn’t until we were back home after the 14-hour day that I realized this was the first time I’d...
I promise you, I do NOT think this is cancer.– My gyn onc, as she took a biopsy of some tissue during my first followup pap yesterday. It’s probably just scar tissue, but she figured since we’d driven all that way, and we wouldn’t see her again for three months, it would be prudent to take the tissue sample.
Because they are often so bizarre, my dreams rarely directly correlate to what’s going on in my waking life. I usually have to sit with them for a couple days and delve into what my subconscious is trying to make out. The recurring driving-at-night-but-unable-to-see dream, for example. Or the dream that has me on the highway or another busy road, feet or hands pumping furiously while I kneel...
creekwalking: ginasstory: Somedays, for seemly no reason, it hits me like a wall that I actually had cancer. Sometimes it feels like this weird not-dream.. I know I did 6 months of chemo, lost all my hair, and fought with all the rest of it and whatnot, but sometimes it feels like it didn’t happen to me. Does this happen to anyone else from time to time? Every day. All the time. Also,...
"The Last Time You Were Truly Happy."
I wrote all day long yesterday. It felt incredible. Most of my entries, like Anne Lamott says, were shitty first drafts. But I’m really pleased with my response to the “Tell Me About the Last Time You Were Truly Happy” writing prompt. So I’m sharing it here: These first few months of 2013 are the happiest I have ever been. I live in a house with my husband. I know, from...
The Upside to Pelvic & Abdominal Radiation?
Keeping my girlish figure. Recovery is making my intestines incredibly sensitive, resulting in a little more awareness of what I take in. All those comfort foods that are supposed to be “treats?” Yeah, those happened a little more often than I was realizing (especially the booze). Here’s a fun list of extreme edibles and potent potables that were staples pre-cancer and are now...
Sometimes (today, for example) I can’t fucking believe I went through chemo and radiation. Not gonna lie, In those instances, I feel like a total badass.
The Upside to Chemo Brain?
I’ve done the same 20-minute yoga DVD at least 10 times now, and I have yet to remember the sun salutations sequence! It’s like taking a new class every time! Chemo Brain: Ensuring you don’t get bored with workout DVDs.
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.– C.S. Lewis (via theriverjordyn)
Anonymous asked: Hi! Love your blog and story. I am a 2x cancer survivor, uterine and a tumor on my kidney. I am compiling an anthology titled "Awakening the Hero Within: Stories from the Cancer Tribe". The cancer tribe is both people like us and our loved ones. I hope to empower people to see that cancer can be a great teacher. It literally woke me up to my being a hero to me, and to my loved ones....
Tumblr: An Unexpected Cancer Support Group →
praesens: ayunfinished: Me, Mandy Johnston of Pappenstance and Julieth of Praesens at Mashable, speaking about cancer and community (and they let me use the “F” word). OMG am I a little lego person? Please say I am!! Thank you for inviting me :) God knows I had a catharsis while telling my story, kind of a closure of the past year to look at :* Um, I totally did not put that together!...
After the nurse asks how the IV-Ativan is working...
fuckyeahcancersucks: I was looking through my cancer buddies’ blogs for the Mashable article and stumbled upon THIS oldie but goodie. That Ativan IV, man. Good stuff.
Cisplatin Researcher Diagnosed with Cervical... →
How crazy is this?! A woman was researching Cisplatin for cancer treatment, then was diagnosed with cervical cancer and treated WITH THE VERY SAME DRUG.
The Spoon Theory
Can there be anything more frustrating for an overachiever than for her brain and body be completely out of sync? To feel so worn down that a weekend isn’t enough to recover from a full week’s worth of work? To no longer have the luxury of a “fake it til you make it” attitude while out in public then collapsing on the couch when nobody’s looking? This “new...
"Crazy, Unsexy Cancer Tips" →
Once again, @Suleikajaouad has mined my thoughts for her latest NY Times “Well” blog. KIDDING. But really, sexual health during and post-cancer treatment is crucial, but not often discussed. I wouldn’t consider myself “lucky,” really, but it is a fact that my type of cancer puts the discussion of our sex life front and center at every followup. Even then, it’s...
Accept, then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had...– Eckhart Tolle (via samsaranmusing)
So Much Drama in the WBC...
Kidding. Not that much drama. Though I did pop in to see my med onc (chemo doctor) on Wednesday for a followup. I hadn’t seen him in months. That guy. He’s kind of a wackadoo. One of those who likes to hear himself talk about the strangest things! I talked about him a bit here, when we first met him, about his ventures into very macabre stories. This visit’s tale was incredibly...
Be content to progress in slow steps until you have legs to run and wings with...– - Padre Pio
Note to Self:
When curious whether your post-treatment body might be ready to reintroduce some of the things you love but had to give up during treatment, maybe try them separately, just in case the answer is a firm NO. Spin class OR raw tomatoes, for example. …she writes from bed, where she’s spending the rest of the day in a tiny bit of agony.
A Very Merry Christmas, Indeed
I have known, for nearly 10 days now, the results of my followup PET scan — THE scan that tells us whether the 30 days of external radiation, five chemotherapy injections and four internal radiation treatments effectively eradicated those pesky cancer cells that were wreaking havoc on my cervix and uterus, as well as my iliac and para-aortic lymph nodes. The verdict? A resounding...
Life, Interrupted: Real Housewives of Chemotherapy... →
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Definitely thinking about submitting an “audition.”
In a swift and bittersweet move, I tendered my resignation today with the agritourism nonprofit I freelance marketed / managed for the last three years. I get a bit emotional when I think about it; I’ve really poured my heart and soul into this group of farmers and vintners and consider many of them family. We’ve come so far since I began: a fresh new website, a sold-out annual event,...
Chemo brain is real!
jumblejuicer: Chemo brain is real! I would literally not remember what I did the day before and completely lost the ability to plan anything (even a simple meal) during the last couple of months of chemo, and for about a month afterwards. I would forget even talking to people sometimes. It was horrible for someone who plans everything and remembers everything to not be able to do these...
Rest and Activity
I’m not sure when it was, exactly, during my epic hour-long leaf raking that I realized this was the most exercise-induced sweating I’ve experienced since my diagnosis. Not complaining, though; I feel great!
The Art of Doing Nothing
I have had no shortage of lectures from loved ones lately, telling me I’m doing too much and to just “do nothing” when I’m not working. The weird thing is? Up until yesterday, I thought that was exactly what I was doing. I couldn’t possibly think of doing anything less than I already was. This week marks my fourth week back at work, just part time at 20 hours per...
Emotions after treatment →
I had this whole post going about what I’m feeling this week, but this page pretty much says it all. It’s a real “wah waaaaah” kind of post, so beware! Not my normal burst of positivity and kickassitude. JLP thinks I’m this tired after treatment because I spent so much energy being positive to get us through it all. I AM SO TIRED, YOU GUYS.
A Roundup of All Sorts of Milestones
After a little more than a month of recovery time, I hate to admit how weird it feels to be chronicling what seems like the mundane parts of my life. Those daily posts May - September had perhaps a facade of a purpose to keep loved ones informed, but looking back it was a bit more selfish than that, wasn’t it? Clearly I write when shit is gnarly and I need to sort my thoughts. When I’m...
Wait longer between Pap tests, ob-gyns say |... →
This makes my phantom tumor hurt just reading it. Something about it seems wrong, but I can’t put my finger on it… Oh! Got it! Let’s make paps even LESS of a big deal by eschewing the annual pap recommendation and telling women to remember to get them every 3 or 5 years - nevermind that cervical abnormalities can become cancer in that span of time.
Pulling the Cancer Card: Cancer Awareness (You... →
mameshiba83: A list of other cancers and their awareness colors. There’s a lot more to cancer than just the little pink breast cancer ribbon. Appendix Cancer - Amber Bladder Cancer - Gold/Blue/Purple Brain Cancer - Gray Carcinoid Cancer - Black and White Cervical Cancer - Teal and White …
Cervical Cancer - When and How?
“How’d you find out you had cancer anyway?” most people ask me, expecting a benign response. “Just a routine exam and there it was?” I’m sure they regret the question shortly thereafter, because the truth is, the very first symptoms I had ended up sending me to the emergency room. Sure, looking back, it might make sense that I was a little more tired, that I...
Aaaand, We're Back.
A perfect storm has brewed to bring me back to the ol’ Pappenstance. After logging SO MANY HOURS, our house is feeling more like a home. The Internetz are now up and running so I’m typing this while sitting at my kitchen table. And Monday began my run of followups with each of my doctors, which also brought me back to a reality I think I was trying to shove into Long-Lost Memoryville:...
Living With Cancer: We Are Seven - NYTimes.com →
Thanks to my aunt for sharing this with me. The focus the last two weeks has been on moving and setting up our home, making cancer and treatment over the last two months seem like a weird dream. As I approach my series of followups with all my doctors in the coming weeks, this brought it back - in a good way.