Samsonite—I was WAY off

Went to see the plastic surgeon, Dr Grasee.  That’s pronounced Grah-zay.  The Foob really likes it, because it sounds so French.  He never has cared for Dr Birhiray-pronounced Beer-Hurray—instead, wanting me to find a doctor named Dr Chardonnay-Hurray.   “We are going to zee Dr Grah-zay, no?”  he asked with a smile.  Little does he know that Dr Grah-zay is going to eliminate his job.  You might think he’d catch on once he heard our conversation, but he was way too busy trying to sweet talk the implant samples to pay any attention.  So, for now, he’s very excited about having a doctor with such a French-sounding name. 

When I made my appointment with the plastic surgeon, I imagined how I thought the place would be.  I figured, you know, they’re in the business of making people look better—bigger in some ways, smaller in others—so everyone who worked there would look like Barbie.  Prior to my appointment, I imagined myself sitting in a waiting room full of people uber-plump lips, tattooed make-up, and gigantic boobs, sticking out alike a sore thumb (me—not the gigantic boobs) because I still have my cellulite intact.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong. 

Dr Grasee and company are down-to-earth, regular people.  No barbies or fem-bots in the bunch.   As for the waiting room, well, I didn’t see any other patients there.  I hope that’s not because I’m the first customer.  Although, when I went to write a check for my co-pay they did ask me if I had cash so they could hang their first dollar on the wall… hmmm.  No, seriously, Dr Grasee is about my age.   Or at least she *looks* my age, but really she could be 112 years old and just keeps having her partner give her a face lift every year.  So, at any rate she’s been doing this for a little while. 

Right off the bat, I told her that I wasn’t really interested in any of the reconstruction methods that would use muscle, and that Dr Schmidt had said I was a good candidate for an expander & implant, in spite of the fact that I’ve had radiation.  She said, “Okay, we’ll see when I examine you if I think that’s a good idea.”  So, she went ahead and explained the other reconstruction options, and showed us the various implants.  Then she opened up a binder full of before and after pictures.  It was all I could do to keep from busting out laughing as she showed us photos of 70 year old women’s boobs—I knew that Hubster, while appearing calm on the outside, was mentally trying to chew his eyes off to get away.  That alone was worth the price of admission. Heh heh.

Finally, she looked at and felt my skin, and agreed that it does indeed look really good.  “Okay,” she said, “I’m thinking we shoot for the initial surgery in August, and then plan to do the exchange in December.  What do you think?” 

I thought that sounded just jim dandy. 

Return of The Foob

As you may recall, The Foob had been missing.  There was even speculation that perhaps he’d run away to join Cirque du Soleil, being a wannabe Frenchman and all.  I’m sure some of you probably suspected that rather than running away, The Foob had simply been misplaced by his Tamoxifen-brained owner.  But I assure you that’s not the case.  The fact of the matter is that he was hiding.  Pouting because he wasn’t getting enough of the spotlight. 

However, even The Foob can only hold out for so long.  And when I said to Mini Me the other day, “I wish I knew where The Foob was so we could take him mushroom hunting” as I was opening one of my underwear drawers, I was greeted with “Bonjour!  Were you looking for me?” 

(Well, well.  Aren’t we unusually congenial?  Amazing what the right motivation will do.)

And so, we took him on his first mushroom hunt.  Of course, since it was his first time and all, we had to point him in the general direction.  Mini Me said, “Okay Foob, I see one over there.”  “I do not see zee truffle,” The Foob replied.  “It’s not a truffle, it’s a morel.  Keep looking,” said Mini Me, “It’s over close to the fence.  Do you see it?”  After a few seconds of intense scrutiny of the leaf-littered ground, The Foob shouted, “Sacrebleu! I see zee mushzroom!”

As you can see, he was licking his chops in anticipation of the evening’s meal.

Sock Her

Mini Me had her first soccer game Sunday.  Other than a couple of practices and just goofing around with friends, she’s never played before, so she spent a good part of the game just trying to figure out what to do.  Fortunately, she didn’t make any grievous mistakes.  You know, like when she started dribbling the ball toward the wrong goal, she at least listened when the parents all screamed in blood-curdling unison, “WRONG WAY!!”  And only proceeded a few feet before turning in the correct direction.

There was a girl on the opposing team who I’m pretty sure was really a 35-year old Austrian man in size 13 cleats. She was just ginormous, and intimidated the socks off all the other kids in spite of the fact that she didn’t really have any skills.  Mini Me, who is used to being the biggest kid in her age group, got clobbered by Soccer She-rah at least once.  “Mom, did you see that really big girl?  She kicked me in the calf so hard I was afraid she broke my leg!”  I don’t think the girl meant to hurt Mini Me.  I found out later that it’s her first year, too.  And, you know, it’s probably hard to control those size 13’s.  But that doesn’t make Mini Me’s calf hurt any less.

Nevertheless, she sucked it up and kept playing.  Go Mini Me!  Unfortunately her team lost 1-0, but at least Mini Me wasn’t the one who scored the winning goal for the opposing team.

Of course, there’s always next week.

Playing Hooky

At the end of last week, I spent probably 45 minutes or so typing up a blog entry.  I mentioned a while back that I have the slowest internet connection ever.  Well, not only do I have Flintstone’s Internet, but I also get my electricity from Flinstone’s Power and Light.  Apparently, just as I was just putting the finishing touches on my masterpiece, the wooly mammoth who runs on the treadmill to generate our electricity decided to take a break.  *poof*  The power went off. 

Now, this isn’t particularly rare.  We have random power outages all year long.  Sometimes it’s because some unlucky critter decided to get up close and personal with the local transformer.  Or, when the moon is full and the Pabst Blue Ribbon is aplenty, it might be because some hilljacks decided to shoot up the substation down the road from here.

But arrrgh!  Why does it always have to happen when I’m writing?

Then the power came back on.  Anxious to find out whether or not the auto recovery feature had done its job, I powered up.  But before the machine could completely reboot….*poof* the power was gone again.


I gave up and went downstairs.  Eventually, the electricity came back on for good.  I fired up the computer.  My blog entry was nowhere to be found.  Thanks to chemo brain and tamoxifen, I no longer have the ability to recall what I’ve written.  Used to be I could remember anything I’d written, nearly verbatim.  Now I can remember the general idea and maybe a particularly pithy phrase or two, but the rest is gone. 

And so, I did what any mature blogger would do.  I pouted.  Okay, not really, but what I did do was walk away from the desk instead of trying to recreate what I’d lost.  And I’ve been playing hooky ever since.  But of course, no one visits my blog if there isn’t anything new, so I figured I’d better get off my butt and write something.

In the coming days, I’ll tell you how I’ve been spending my time, including taking The Foob mushroom hunting, and Mini Me’s first soccer game.  Stay tuned…

Getting an Earful

Prince called and wanted his 80″s hair back, so I had to find a new ‘do.  You may recall that I’d previously attempted to use a flat iron without much success.  Oh sure, the hair was straight, but not in a good way.  It’s been a few weeks and my hair has grown since then, so I decided to give it another shot.

The flat iron, for those of you who don’t know, looks like a pair of electric hair tongs.  Spring loaded, it stays in the open position until you insert a piece of hair and squeeze it shut.  Then you pull it away from the head, allowing the hair to slide through the two sides, effectively being ironed along the way. 

I’m sure that for people with naturally straight hair, this is a very quick and painless process—making their hair super-straight.  But naturally curly hair doesn’t want to give up its identity that easily.  And so, each small piece has to be ironed again, and again, and again. 

This is where the process starts getting dangerous for me. 

You see, I have a very limited amount of patience.  Especially for things like ironing my hair.  Unlike Hubster, the engineer, with infinite attention to detail, I just want to get it done and move on already.  Hubster doesn’t iron his hair, but you can bet if he did, ALL of the individual hairs would be independently straightened.  In fact, their straightness would probably be measured with a tiny, calibrated hair straightness measuring device.  “Quadrant C-16 has 2 degrees of camber…”  Do you have any idea how LONG it would take him to get ready?  Sheesh!  It already takes forever, as he has to inspect and cleanse every pore individually, and brush each tooth 652 strokes.  I can’t imagine what the results would be if he did more than run a comb through his hair.

But, that’s not me.  I’m all about get it done and move on.  Mini Me will tell you, that I sometimes label the cockamamie ways she goes about doing things as “grossly inefficient.”  Get it done.  Move on.  And so, when it came time to iron my curly hair into submission, the repetitiveness quickly wore on me.  It was especially difficult to straighten those pesky, curly parts that tried to hide behind my ears.  Those pieces are shorter than the top, and hard to capture in the electric hair tongs.  I quickly lost patience.  My movements began to gain speed, until the fateful moment when…

YEEOOUUCH!  I did not grab my hair.

I grabbed my ear.  Yup.  Clamped that puppy right in between those electric tongs, I did.  And while I quickly pulled the flat iron away, the damage was done.  Burns, both front and back.  Of course, with my hair being so short and all, there really wasn’t a good way to hide it.  Especially from whoever happened to sit on my right.  Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh, it’s probably not that obvious.  I bet people don’t even notice.”  Oh yeah?  Every single person I’ve told this story to has had the same response: “I was wondering what had happened to your ear.”

It’s a good thing that I’m well past that self-conscious, afraid-to-look-like-a-dork stage of life. 

I’m glad I have enough hair to iron, but I’ll be even happier when it’s long enough that I can let it be curly.  This hair ironing, ear frying stuff is just grossly inefficient.

A Riddle

What is eight feet long, has two wheels, four arms, four legs, and two heads that scream at each other “Stop leaning! I’m NOT! WHOA! I feel like I’m going to DIE! AAAHHHH!”? 

Hubster and I on our new tandem bicycle. 

I know, you guys all have the same romantic notions I once had about tandems.  You’re probably humming that bicycle built for two song right now.  “But you’d look sweet, upon the seat, of a bicycle built for two.”   Yeah.  More like, “But you and I, will sure-ly die, on our bicycle built for two.” 

You wouldn’t think it would be that hard, would you?  I mean, it’s a bike, for Pete’s sake, not a jumbo jet.  (Although it’s nearly as long as one.)  

The tandem bicycle laughs at your ignorance, just as it laughed at ours. 

“Ha!” says the malicious deathcycle, “You think you can ride me?  Bring it on, amateurs.  I ain’t your mama’s Schwinn, with the cute little basket and the bell on the handle bars. I am the modern tandem—sleek, and beautiful, and ready to throw you to the pavement at the slightest mistake.  What?  You didn’t bring your helmet to test drive me?  Aw, that’s too bad.  I wonder what you’ll carry your head home in.”   

We did manage to successfully complete the near death experience test drive without any carnage.  Afterwards, Hubster asked me, “Well, what do you think?”  I said, “I think it’ll be a lot of fun if it doesn’t kill us.”  And so we brought it home.  No hateful bicycle’s gonna be the boss of me, doggone it.  Besides, this is the only way I have of ever keeping up with Hubster, who rides way faster than me.

But from now on, I’ll be wearing my helmet and some Depends.

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You Don’t Scare Me

My medical bill post gave some of you a little sticker shock.  Sure, I don’t have the money to pay a bill like that, but I’ve gotten enough of these things by now that it really doesn’t even phase me.  Really, what are they going to do?  Take their radiation back?  Or put my old boob back on?  Not that I’m a deadbeat about it or anything, but you know, there’s only so much cash to go around up in here.  Get in line, hospital.  Right behind the surgeon’s office, and the oncologist, and the lab, and the mammogram people, and the pathologist, and the foob store, and…. 

Besides, when you’ve faced down cancer, is anything else really scary anymore?   It’s kind of like, once you’ve given birth nothing else is really painful by comparison.   The first surgery I had was scary because I’d never had one before.  But was it the most painful thing I’ve ever done?  HECK no.  Not even close.  I’ve given birth—to a 9 lb baby—there IS no worse pain.  And, surgery isn’t even scary anymore because I’ve done it four stinkin’ times in the last year.  At this point I’m totally over it.  My biggest concern is whether or not it’ll keep me from going roller skating on the 2nd Friday of the month.

So, sorry, hospital, you’re just going to have to wait your turn.


Remember my post a couple of days ago about search engine terms people have used to find this blog?  I’ve got another one for you: “pink tourniquets”.  Gee, I didn’t know they came in colors.  All the ones I’ve ever had wrapped around my arm (at the same time, even) have been that generic rubber glove color.  Maybe my insurance will only pay for the generic, as opposed to the name brand tourniquet.  No fancy DKNY or Prada tourniquet for me.  Nope.  I get the Faded Glory tourniquet.

But I guess I can’t blame the insurance company.  If I had to pay for it, I’d be like, “We’re getting our tourniquets at a yard sale this year” or “We can’t draw your blood until July when the summer tourniquets go on clearance, because I am not paying full price” or “Make sure you hang onto that tourniquet and bring it back with you next time.” 


We Now Return to Our Regular Programming

So last week I got this in the mail.  Note that it’s due in 7 days.  You know what I’ve got to say to that?  HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HA HA HA!  Notice also that for my convenience, they’ll let me pay by credit card. That would indeed be convenient—but so is Hamburger Helper, and I ain’t doing that either.

Really, is there anyone on the face of the earth that thinks that putting 33k on my Visa would be a good idea? 

You might be wondering if that bill was for a surgery, hospitalization, etc.  Nope.  It was for radiation.  Now, it wasn’t for the doctor, or the therapist, or any of the other people.  This bill is apparently for the use of the lovely facility.  You want to talk about high rent.  I’m thinking for 33-grand I should have been able to watch the stinkin’ Food Network instead of those horrible soap operas.  And for that kind of money, I’m entitled to open the blinds and let a little light into the joint.  But I suppose it doesn’t really matter, because all that stuff has moved to the new building anyway.  I hate to think what radiation there would cost.

Now before you all freak out and plan a chili supper to raise money for me or put a can with my face on it by the cash register at the Mexican restaurant, I have to tell you that upon further investigation we discovered that the hospital submitted the claim to the insurance under my SSN instead of Hubster’s.  So, the insurance company declined it, and consequently, the hospital billed me.  They are resubmitting that and the insurance should pay it all.



Wow. This place is like a ghost town.

I slice up my soul and put it on a deli tray along side some colby and a stack of kaiser rolls, and nobody but my mom has anything to say about it? Not even to tell me that I’m for sure going to hell for sassin’ God, or that I shouldn’t quit my day job?

Sheesh! I think I might just have to get me some new readers.

Y’all are fired.

About Canoes & Cancer

(Back in January, I spoke at a women’s ministry event.  It was a cruise themed brunch entitled “Sailing the Crystal Seas.”  I was asked to speak on navigating life’s stormy gales.  It took me a while to decide to do it.  Not because I’m afraid to speak in public, but because I felt like many people already had me up on this inspirational cancer girl pedestal, and I didn’t want to pretend to be some sort of role model.  In the end, I didn’t have a good reason not to speak, so I did.  The space constraints of the old blog site prevented me from publishing it back then, but that’s not a problem here.  For some reason I feel impressed to publish it today.)   


I grew up canoeing.  Our family got a canoe when I was about 7 years old, and we spent a lot of time during the summer canoeing on Big Raccoon Creek.  Not too long after we got the canoe, my dad and I entered a parent/child canoe race that was part of what used to be known as the Banks of the Wabash Festival.  The race was a sprint—I believe about ¼ mile.  If I remember correctly, it was from the old river bridge to some point along the bank at Fairbanks Park.  When it came time to race, I remember sitting in the front of the canoe, pouring every ounce of effort I had into paddling, as family and friends watched from the river bank.  I remember thinking how fast we were going, and how speedy we must look to the folks on the shore. 

Of course, to hear my dad tell it years later, my contribution was not the powerful paddle strokes that I thought I was using.  Instead, they were poorly timed, badly executed, and succeeded more in slowing us down than speeding us up. 

Nevertheless, we won first place. 

This, my friends, is my first place trophy from that race.  Can’t you just hear the crowd cheering?  At 30 years old it’s a little worse for the wear…the plate which held the event name was lost somewhere alone the way, and sometimes it kind of comes unscrewed and ends up all cockeyed…and that may be due in part to the fact that I loved to show it off and tell the story of how we won a canoe race on the river.  Of course, I usually left out one little detail when I was bragging.

We were the only ones in the race.

I was thinking about my canoe because Women of Joy had asked me to tie into the whole sea-faring/cruise theme.  There’s quite a contrast between my canoe and a cruise ship, and it occurred to me that it was a pretty good analogy. 

In a canoe, we’re in control.  And canoes are great for navigating streams and rivers, lakes and ponds.  I like to compare this to the everyday, mundane circumstances of life.  God has given us the intelligence, and the ability to handle these types of things without consulting him.  For example, I’ll bet that most of us don’t stand in the grocery store and pray over the various products asking for God’s guidance.  “Lord Jesus, I want to do your will.  I know Dawn cuts grease and takes it away, but Lord there is also Palmolive, which softens hands while you do the dishes.   I just ask that you make it abundantly clear to me which dish soap is the one you’d have me to use.”  

We don’t do that, because we don’t need to.  God has not only given us the ability to make such decisions, but He’s given us the freedom to do so, as well.  We’re in our canoe.  The water is calm.  The decisions are ours.  No problem.  Hopefully, we make wise decisions based on the brains God has given us and our personal preferences.  If so—wooo!—look at us!  First place!

But, calm inland waters are not the only ones we will navigate in life.  We often find ourselves out in the ocean.  Even when calm, the ocean is not really a good place to be in a canoe.  Canoes aren’t made for that sort of thing, but many times we try to stay in them anyway.  Our successes with the mundane make us think that we’re somehow skilled enough to remain in control despite the fact that we simply are not equipped to do so. 

And there’s something else about canoes:  they’re not very big.  We can only carry so much in the way of provisions.  If we have to be on the ocean for a long time—and we do—how will we ever carry enough supplies to make the trip?  And forget canoeing the stormy seas.  You’ll soon find yourself hanging onto your capsized canoe trying desperately to maintain control while the provisions you did bring sink.  “What will I do?  How can I fix this situation?” you think.  Completely self-focused, without nourishment, and hanging desperately to our upside down boat, we can’t even take care ourselves, let alone anyone else.

What we really need is to be on a vessel that is big enough to navigate the ocean.  One that is steady in the waves, and secure even in the storms.  A ship that has plenty of space to store everything we need for our journey.  We need to be on a cruise ship, but there’s a catch to that: we will not be in control.  In fact, we will have to trust God to be in control. 

When you’re standing on the deck of the cruise ship, the decision to trust God can seem easy.  You’re already there.  Of course it’s better than being tossed around in a canoe.  Duh!  Besides, check out the buffet! 

But, when you’ve canoed out into the ocean, and the waves start getting high and fierce, and between the salt water burning your eyes and the smothering waves crashing over your head, your fear may be so great that you won’t dare let go of your canoe to grab a life preserver thrown from the ship. 

Can I just say that Satan loves that?  He loves to see us clinging to what we think we can control as we are overcome by waves.  He loves to feed fear to that part of us that needs to let go of the canoe and grab the life preserver.  He loves seeing us doubt whether or not to put our trust in God.  We have a choice to make: Do we grab the life preserver?  Or cling to our canoe?  We may not be in control of the waves, or even the canoe, but we have control over our choices. 

Hopefully, we choose to put our faith in God.   

When Jody asked me to speak, she mentioned something to the effect of everyone being anxious to hear how I keep my focus on God, and how that has helped me through this past year.  I thought, “Oh, I’m SUCH a fake!  Is that really how I come off?  Like I’ve got it all together, and it’s because I’m so very holy that I just breeze right through whatever happens?”  Let me enlighten you.

My friends, I’m no role model.  I’m not always focused on God.  I don’t pray as much as I should. I have wrestled with God for control of my situation more than once.  Still don’t believe me?  Do you want to know what the first thing was that I thought upon hearing that I had cancer?  I thought, AT GOD, “I hate you.”  

I’ve never told anyone that—because I’m ashamed that I ever thought it.  But, I needed to make clear to you that what you see in me that you call strength is not me at all.  It’s God’s grace—given to me not because I deserve it, or because I’m so focused, or at all holy—but because that’s what He does for his children when they are broken. 

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

People often say to me, “I don’t know how you manage.  I couldn’t do it.”  I really don’t even understand a comment like that.  I want to ask them if they think this was optional and I chose it.  Perhaps they think one day God said, “Hey what do you think about some cancer?” And I was like, “What a great opportunity for me to show everyone how well I’ll cope!  Bring it on!” 

We don’t get to choose our circumstances.  But, we still have a choice.

In movie The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo, the ring bearer says, I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”  Gandalf replies,  “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

We need to realize that all life is not about us.  We can either get all wrapped up in our circumstances, or choose to focus on something beside ourselves.  I can tell you from my own experience that focusing on self is counter-productive.  When we focus on ourselves, we focus on what we can do and what we think we can control.  The only thing we really control is our attitude and our actions.  Beyond that, we’re just wrestling with God.

When we wrestle with God, we’re playing right into Satan’s hands.  He wants us not to trust God.  He wants to feed our doubts and fears. The devil is opportunistic.  If we beat ourselves up, if we work ourselves into a frenzy of fear, if we wallow in self-pity, we’re basically doing his work for him, and he’s happy to let us.  No matter what our situation, our choice boils down to this: Either we trust God, or we let Satan get the best of us.

I remember a few months back I was boo-hooing to a friend about the fact that I was going to have to have a mastectomy.  This was one of those days where I was just completely in meltdown mode.  She said, “Can you still fulfill God’s purpose for you without that breast?”  What could I say?  I had to admit that I could.  Yet I was still all wrapped up in myself, and at first I was kind of annoyed with her for asking.  “Yes,” I grumbled, I could still fulfill God’s purpose, blah, blah, blah, “BUT….” I started in again.  She wouldn’t leave me alone though, and I finally saw how self-focused I was being.

 Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still not thrilled about giving up a breast.  You won’t hear me say ”Gee, I hope I can have another mastectomy for the glory of God!  In fact, my only regret is that I don’t have more breasts to sacrifice.”  If I do have another mastectomy, I’ll wish that it didn’t have to be so. 

It’s not wrong to grieve for our losses in life.  God created us with the ability to feel deeply.  However, we cannot build permanent homes in the desert.  God has better places in mind for us.  We must trust God, and keep moving.

Acts 26:16  says “Now get up and stand on your feet.  I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.”

Can someone tell me what the first word of that passage was?  It was now.  Now.  Not “when I’ve got it all together”.  Not “when I get through this”. Not “when I’m as wise as so-and-so”.  Now.  Wherever you are—there is value there.  There is opportunity there.  God has work for you to do.  Don’t focus on yourself to the point of becoming cross-eyed and miss seeing the opportunities around you.

Now get up and stand on your feet.