Two years to this day, I was on my way to my first photoshoot as a widow. I remember being in a cloud aka ‘widows’ fog but not to the full extend of where I had no control or not remembering. It had been only slightly over two months since I had lost my husband of 21 years suddenly and unexpectedly to a catastrophic brain stem hemorrhage stroke. He was 51 years old. I had to continue to do what I was doing without him. This advocacy awareness was definitely my calling and I was not going to reject this great invitation and experience. Am I glad that I didn’t now.
I had about a 3 hour drive to the beach to the photoshoot site, a location that I’d never been to before. I was looking forward to the scenic drive and had hopes to take the kids to the beach following the shoot. We packed the car with our beach attire and snacks and headed out, gps on. I had no idea what to expect other than to keep pressing on and get this experience behind me once more, almost as if to make my late husband proud, yet at the same time, to find a ground of normalicy for me and the kids alike. We were all used to the glam and routines that an advocate has and opportunities that come with it.
Upon arriving, I was tense but excited. I was also nervous to meet the other cancer survivors that were to be photographed that day as well. I wasn’t sure how this day would play out. Would we be photographed together as a group or as individuals? I had my awareness flyers in hand but did not know if it would be appropriate to hand them out at this particular event. Taking a deep breath, I fixed my shirt and crossed the street from where I could see the big studio windows, so inviting in the cool ocean air and photo equipment.
The moment I walked to the door, I was greeted with such warm invites, handshakes, names, and hugs. Everyone had such big smiles, best dressed. I remember one survivor dressed in his crisp light pink shirt, suspenders and tie, so pristine with his style and big grin. Of all of us there, range of all ages, we had one thing in common-LIFE. We had the appreciation of life. I don’t fully recall if I had already known at the time that Melody, the founder, was a long-term cancer survivor from a childhood cancer but I knew for sure by the end of that day. Amazing! We had already connected via Instagram and chatted which was how I got the invitation to be part of this to begin with. I did know that they had plans for a few different projects, one was a survivor book, although their details were still in the making at time. The entails of remembering this was a fog because I was just trying to get through my days, one at a time, and this first big project alone. I had recently started wearing my husband’s ashes in a time vial along with his ring around my neck; I had been pondering whether to take it off or not, deciding to leave it as a time mark on this new, unwanted journey of mine.
While I waited my turn, they had their makeup artist touch up my make-up and hair, and I chatted with different ones around me while watching others before me get their photos done. They offered us all waters and treats as we waited. I recall talking with a woman there that was also a widow and how she was at awe that I was even there so soon following my husband’s death. She gave me her phone number in case I ever wanted to connect in the future. We both understood our position in life because she was also newly widowed, however, my journey was just beginning so there were limits to my understanding to her extent.
The photoshoot itself was amazing on simple white backdrop and a few basic, every day used props. They had offered to have my kids in the shoot with me, but my youngest, 4 at the time, was being bashful, so my eldest joined me. The images and mother-daughter poses were beautiful. My daughter was old enough to understand my pain yet young enough to not feel the 24/7 sting of it. I now have these captured in time forever along with my memories, and with all the other beautiful survivors there, not on social media alone, however, but in this book that they’ve created and finished. I am so excited to get mine and to have my oncologist dept receive theirs. I know that this will be a great gift for so many, especially my nurses when they see my photos and my cancer/chemo ‘after life’.
Once the shoot was done, they offered us to stay but I insisted that we wanted to head to the beach before the sun set. We ended up on some small beach with a nice playground where we collected seashells and seaweed at dusk and watched the dim of the lighthouse get brighter in the dark. I remember the loneliness, however, also feeling the settled of my-our new reality. We made the best of this trip and went coast scene driving after leaving the rough sandy shore. These memories with all of my kids and this event will forever be with me even more so collaborated within their book. Treasures to remember and new friendships to last. I have since reconnected with them and attended another cancer event they held again by the ocean. This time I was able to invite another choriocarcinoma survivor to attend with me and be part of the event. Moments last beyond memories in a book.
As we all sit in our homes, isolated away from our normal day-to-day activities and peeps, to the cancer world, this is nothing new or unexpected. Us cancer survivors and patients know first-hand about homebound isolation and staying away from people. We know about having to leave our day to day activities to allow for treatments, appointments, tests, resting, healing or just doing nothing but breathe. We know what it is like to have our entire life come to a halting stop. We know what it’s like to be sitting within our walls, watching from the inside. We know the ideas of confinement and withdrawals. We know the long-lived anticipation to return to normal, oh, yes, normal, a normal that many never get back to….we know all too well.
We know what it’s like wearing masks all while eyeing people from afar. We know all too well the varied
That is a question, a question for many facing chemotherapy or currently on chemotherapy. A question for some of us post-chemo or those who have been left with more permanent side effects. You’re left with the decision of changing your look in order to look similar to how you did before treatment or styling differently according to your new situation. Whatever your reason to question, it is always smart to learn the pros and cons. You should never feel pressured to do one thing or the other. During my long and
You only have 2 choices, and choosing the wrong one could be devastating. These two choices can be life-changing, life-altering.
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It's World Cancer Day. What does that mean? Is this a holiday only for cancer survivors and cancer patients? Are caregivers involved on this day? For those that are new to the cancer world and those "Outsiders" World Cancer Day can be another spuriest made-up holiday. But World Cancer Day is more than that when looked beyond a glance.
As a cancer survivor, I am learning of all the 'perks' that come with diagnosis and remission. I engolf myself with all available resources to my advantage and pass on to others, therefore my reason of writing this blog.
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Dear X- Friend,
Why do you avoid me? What is it that makes you fear? Is it my mask? My baldness? My paleness? Is it my cancer? Just say it. You are afraid of catching my cancer, my germs, my death sentence. Am I correct? Is this why you left me? Is this why you broke off our friendship, our relationship? Is this why you went running? You never looked back. You never cared enough to look over your shoulder. You never thought twice about leaving, abandoning me. You never cared enough to stay. Live in your denial. You never cared to ask. You never cared to hear my story. You never cared to learn the truth of my facts. You don't care if I
All I heard over a 12 hour period was "You're pregnant and miscarrying" across several floors--from the ER to Labor & Delivery to Telemetry--until they tried to send me home. The last remark I heard before an actual diagnosis was "It's just a heavy period." As I was hemorrhaging. We're talking two buckets full, nearly-passing-out, horror-movie stuff. Give me a break.
Repeatedly, I refused their explanations for my four-month-postpartum intermittent bleeding. Repeatedly, I refused to go home. I was NOT going to bleed to death in my bed. I knew something was wrong and that
Social media. Some hate it, some love it. It is a love-hate relationship for many. But what if it could be used as a tool? A tool to sharpen the knowledge of others, a tool to erase the ignorance, a tool to engage needed support? A tool is a tool indeed.
Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I avoided social media with mixed feelings, only drawing out the negativity from it. As much as I wanted to open an account, I dismissed the idea several times.
Upon my cancer diagnosis, I quickly found myself on Facebook connecting with family and friends, posting weekly updates of my cancer journey. It was much easier than trying to keep up with handwritten l
I remember the day clearly. My head was still rapidly spinning. I had finished weekly chemotherapy after six and a half months and my picc-line (peripherally inserted central catheter) was about to be removed.
The reality was, I was terrified of this change. A number of what-if's filled my mind and uncertainties quarantined my body. So soon? I wasn't ready for this, yet it was an oncology order. I had learned to adjust to this being in my arm; it had been part of my arm as I learned to deal with the pain and minimal use that seeing it off was too much to grasp. I needed a little more time!
The thought of my cancer returning and having another one put in was horrid. The picc-line RN that put it
It's hard enough to express you've had cancer, but explaining a rare cancer is even more difficult.
Most patients automatically expect to hear breast cancer, colon cancer or bone cancer. When I say choriocarcinoma they ask, "What's that?" When they hear placental cancer their faces drop, almost in dismay, disbelief. Some even change the subject. Besides, it's a rare cancer, right? The chances of getting
Bald is powerful. Bald is beautiful. Bald is bold. Bald is stylish. Bald is bald.
You may or may not agree with these. You may have had a change of heart as to how you see bald after your treatments. Maybe you don't. How do you see bald?
For me, I saw bald very quickly. I had thinning hair on my first chemo treatment plan, but once I was
Some are willing to talk about anxiety while others are not, remaining hidden beneath their fears and the torture of it. When my molar pregnancy disease progressed to aggressive malignant cancer choriocarcinoma, my anxiety was at its highest. A molar pregnancy is rare, and threatens the life of a child. In my case, this affected the twins I was expecting and in turn led to me getting cancer.
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I learned these firsthand when I was on the aggressive 5 agent cocktail known as ema-co for placental cancer choriocarcinoma from my complete twin molar pregnancy. Depending on the type of chemo, the length and the strength, some may vary from person to person, but below I’ve written out a list of some of
It's not everyday you get to stay in the hospital, and most hospitals are far from luxurious. However everyone at some point in their lifetime spends at least one visit in the hospital, whether it be surgery, illness, or cancer treatment. Let's face it-hospital time is boring. Time seems to move very slowly. What are some tips to help the time pass?
I have done my share of time in the hospital after being diagnosed with placental cancer, choriocarcinoma,
Most women get a baby after pregnancy. My pregnancy, however, gave me a baby and cancer. Actually, what began as two babies and cancer. That's right- I got Choriocarcinoma, or cancer of the placenta, as a result from my pregnancy. Who knew such a beautiful milestone could turn into something life-threatening? A Molar pregnancy happens when the tissue that normally becomes a fetus turns into an abnormal growth inside the uterus instead. What I experienced, my twin Molar pregnancy, resulted in the