Friday, December 17

Best Christmas Present Ever!

Today was the last day before Christmas break. Yep, school's out for 2 whole weeks! What on Earth will we do? I'm thinking, sleeping in, snuggling on the couch, and eating our hearts out with all the goodness around sounds pretty darn good to me.

Oh, and I guess we'll celebrate Christmas, too. :-) My kids are 6 and 9, and mostly still believe. Personally, I hope they try for a very long time to make me think they're believers, because it's all so much fun!

I got the best Christmas present ever yesterday. I had my regular 6 month check up with my oncologist. Lovely lady, very smart and about my age, so we get along smashingly. Anyhoo, we did the blood work (which I had to go in twice for, with 4 pokes total!) and the clinical exam (you know, the part where you strip and they feel you up a bit) and then got to sit down and talk about the state of things. Blood work=normal. Clinical exam=normal. My complaint of being exhausted=normal with 2 small kiddos and tons of volunteer work. She doesn't have the magic bullet for weight loss yet, but I guess I'll give her a pass on that one. :-)

At this point in the visit, I always start asking tons of questions about this drug or that treatment or this test, and whether or not I should have had in the past or have it now. (Does any of this sound familiar, or am I just a nut?) Any breast cancer patient worth her salt counts down the days until her 5 year cancer free anniversary (or cancerversary, for those of us on YSC). Mine is due this summer. So, we started talking recurrence risks, etc. Turns out, for my particular type of breast cancer, the highest risk of recurrence has already passed me by! It helped that I had a bilateral mastectomy and all those horrible chemo drugs and radiation. So, on the bell curve, I'm on the tail, and that tail has a recurrence risk of 2-5%.

Image: the Frisky

Not only that, but those yearly MRI's I've been forking out so much money for? Turns out they really don't do me much good anymore, and she didn't think I needed them. At least not on a yearly basis.

At this point, I'm seeing myself doing the hula on Hawaii with all that extra cash I'll have in my pocket. :-) Not really, but those darned things are so expensive! And now that I'm on an individual policy, those costs really add up. Yep, I was feeling pretty darn euphoric. A hug and a Merry Christmas, and I'm out the door.

On my way out, I shared the elevator with two lovely ladies who had just finished their appointment with my oncologist's partner. They were both older, but I assumed the older of the 2 was the one in treatment. Oh no! The younger one was. (Young being relative, as she had to be in her 60's.) She looked just like I looked when I first started this whole crazy rollercoaster ride-- nervous, worried, tired, confused.

Image: PsychCentral

We started talking on the way down. She had just completed her first chemo treatment last week. I asked her if she'd noticed her hair falling out yet, and she hadn't. The look in her eyes was one of such sadness. I remember that oh so well. Losing your hair is the surest sign that you are sick, whether you feel sick or not. It's such a defeat, or at least it felt that way to me. I told her to shave her head as soon as it started to fall out, and to make a mohawk before she shaves it all. That image made her smile, and it made my day. I swear, if I could spend my day talking to newly diagnosed women, listen to their fears and concerns, and help them understand that the journey is filled with sorrows and joy, and that they will get through it, I would be a happy camper.

I left the office knowing I'd probably never see that woman again. I can only hope that seeing someone who's gone through it and come out the other side healthy, happy, and strong will make her believe she will do it, too.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. May your journey bring you more joy than sorrows, and more strength than you knew you had.

Wednesday, December 8

So very disappointing!

As anyone who's read my blog in the last 2 years knows, I'm a bit of a liberal. Since moving to the state I currently reside in, I've become a "bleeding heart" liberal in comparison to the reddest of red states. Nothing here has really changed.

I am not sure now what to call myself. I'm not embarrassed by calling myself liberal, or progressive, or Democrat. OK, I'm now admitting that, after the last 2 years, I'm embarrassed to call myself a Democrat. I'm not a Democrat, at least not the kind that is parading around Washington D.C. these days.

In my state, in my district, we actually elected a Democrat to the House. He lasted 2 years. Why? Because he was really a Republican in sheep's clothing. (And, he wasn't nearly as crazy as the guy he took over for.) He voted against the Health Care Reform bill (because he didn't think we needed reform), against the stimulus package (because we couldn't afford to spend more $ and balloon the deficit), and voted FOR everything the Republicans backed. Now, he would tell me he was just representing his district as best he could, which may, sadly, actually be true. But I didn't vote for him come election day. Why? Because he wasn't representing ME. And as far as I see it, most of America's problems right now stem from too many people voting AGAINST their best interests. Yep, I'm talking to 99% of you who voted Republican. I'm pretty sure that many people aren't wealthy beyond all imagination.

Yesterday, as all the hubub was going on in DC with the tax cut "negotiation," I was listening to my beloved NPR with interest as they broadcast the President's press conference. And then I listened with disgust. Not only did he negotiate with idiots about things he didn't need to negotiate with, he stood at that podium and got visibly angry with any Democrat or liberal that is disenchanted with him and his Administration's accomplishments!

All I can say is that he must be living in some bubble if he is unaware of why anyone is upset with how he's handled things so far. I understand his stance that he's been in crisis mode for 2 years, mopping up the Republicans' mess. I get that. What I don't understand is why he hasn't fought for anything that I thought he believed in. Why didn't he get more involved in the health care debate earlier, fighting to keep a public option in the debate for at least a while? Why would he think he needed to give these billionaires more tax breaks to get funding for unemployment? Why not actually have a fight over anything? We do not always need to "make a deal" right away. We should be having fights over things that are important. But we haven't lately, and it worries me.

I'm reposting Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" from his show last night. I don't always agree with him, but he is spot on in this clip, and I sorely wish the President would listen.

If we don't change how our government is taxing and spending (and they are not doing these things in the way most people think they are), then we as a country are doomed to failure. It is inevitable. I just hope we're ready for the fall.