July 4, 2010


I remember this night four years ago...the fourth of July 2006.  My husband, daughter and I were sitting on the roof of the parking garage at the Gaylord Texan Hotel watching the fireworks over Lake Grapevine.   That was the day that my hair fell out!  I was in the 14th day of treatment for breast cancer. 

I guess freedom comes in many different forms because here I am today celebrating freedom from cancer.  I had my four year check up this week and it is gone!

I collect watercolor prints of Brian Andreas called the storypeople. http://www.storypeople.com/  Each has a saying that means something to me along with some really crazy looking people.  I have seven of them in one bathroom.  Sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom and read all of them.  This is a particularly good one.....

Everything changed when she learned
there was exactly enough time
for the important things in life.

Here are some important things that I learned during the six months of treatment....
  • It is ok to spend the day doing "nothing productive".  This was a hard one for me because I always based my worth on what I could do and get done.

  • It is ok to spend the day curled up with a blanket in a big chair reading a book that has no socially redeeming qualities.

  • It is ok to spend the day in your pajamas.  I learned the lessons so well that I still do it even though I am back working everyday.  I am fortunate that I work at home!  Although my husband often asks,  "Aren't you ever going to get dressed?"

  • It doesn't take long to get dressed when you have no hair, no eyebrows, and no eyelashes.  Think about it! That part was a real timesaver!

  • Mosquitoes don't bite you when you are on chemo.  They don't like your yucky blood either.

  • You don't ever have to shave your legs...another time saver!  (However,  it does not seem fair that chin hairs come back before any other hair!)

  • You learn to have selective hearing. From my surgeon on that day I heard only two things...."It is cancer!" and "It is totally treatable!" Treatable...that is all I needed to know.

  • Don't sweat the small (or fat) stuff.  Once I was crying in the office of my oncologist.  When he came in he said, "What is wrong with you?"  I said, "In the last 14 days I have gained 14 pounds!"  He said, "You have to realize that I am doing this to you. It is my fault, not your fault.  It's what it takes to get you well.  Now, go wash your face and go in and get your chemo!"  P.S.  I still have those 14 pounds!  Maybe it was not all his fault. I love my oncologist!  He is 30 years younger than I am.  He says we will be connected for the rest of our lives! It is good to have a younger man in your life....even if it is your doctor.

  • Friends are precious!  Sometimes, it is surprising who your real friends are.  With one friend I laughed as we shared a bottle of wine while she shaped my wig (one side might have been a little shorter than the other but you couldn't tell if I tilted my head a little).  Then we tried to put false eyelashes on me.   That doesn't work if you don't have any eyelashes to attach the false ones to.  

  • Another friend set me a note on the day of each treatment.  The notes were always addressed to My Precious Friend.   It is good to know that you are PRECIOUS to someone.

  • Family is everything!  My husband and I built a "chemo" garden.  We had a rock border put in an area in the backyard.  Each Sunday before my treatment we would go to the nursery and buy some plants.  (Friends that found out what we were doing gave us plants from their gardens.)  After I finished each treatment I would sit outside in a lawn chain and he would plant another section of the garden.  Now four years later, this is a view of part of the garden from our bedroom window.

    One Sunday evening my grandson, Trevor, and I were at my house making brownies and talking.  I said, "Oh, Trevor, I have to go get my yucky medicine tomorrow and I REALLY don't want to do that."  He looked at me with big brown eyes and said, "But G, you have to get your yucky medicine.  It makes you better and I REALLY want you to get better!"  Great wisdom can come from five years olds.  Sometimes it takes yucky stuff to make us better.  I hope that I am a better person because of the yucky stuff.
    Regardless of what the AMA recommends, have your mammograms.  One in eight women will develop breast cancer.  Early detection is the key to the cure.  It saved my life!
    Let Freedom Ring!
    Want to watch a really great movie on this subject?  Go to www.mylifetime.com/movies/living-proof


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