Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's Not Over 'til it's Over... But now it is - and I'm Glad

You haven't heard from us in a while... and here's why:

(Note: you can pause or replay the music in the player on the right)

The good news is I went back to work...

The bad news is I was working too much too much to blog...

The good news is I'm not working anymore...

The bad news is I need to look for work and not mess around with personal blogging...

- so, this will likely be the last post to this blog for a long time.

Plus, it is kinda over - fortunately.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my double mastectomy. We think.

Larry and I mused over what would be an actual anniversary date - the surgery, the diagnosis, the suspect mammo? The start of chemo - or the end of it? Maybe it's not for another 5 years when the prescribed daily bone-crushing, hormone-blocking medication has had its run? Perhaps it's the finishing touches of breast reconstruction - slap on a coat of paint, hang the curtains and you're done, ma'am!

Yes, the journey started with a routine test and will end with tattoos (lavish ones - if I have my way), but the most iconic moment had to be the removal of the breasts - the banishing of the beast within them. As I write this now, I'm only too aware of this same day one year ago as I was wheeled into the operating room - wondering what and who would I be when I woke up.

I fought for my patient rights, I "handled" each harsh treatment with self-respect and compassion for my body. I returned to life in the working world and community with full force. I did it all with the support and good grace and love of my friends, family and colleagues - and most of all, my fantastic husband, Larry.

Yet, through tears of gratitude and triumph, I am grieving today. I realize, with everything else, I did not allow myself to do that all year. What really marks the days and hours of struggling to accept what had happened? And to not accept what didn't have to happen?
And - to make it through all.

I made it. We made it. Thank you.

I want to close this out with a poem, "Begin Again," by Anna McKenzie that a friend and fellow survivor, Dr. Melissa Johnson read at a recent Wellness Community gathering. She was introduced to this poem while in Ireland last summer on a women's retreat. The Irish friend who shared it said Anna wrote it while in prison in Chile.

Melissa's edited selection speaks best to my experience - plus, I (and I suspect most of you) belong to the CSAS (Church of the Short Attention Span). If you want to read the whole poem - email me - and I'll be happy to forward it on.
Please help me "Begin Again" by ending this conversation with your thoughts and comments and by being "Glad" (thank you, David Byrne) we got through it!

Love, amp

Begin Again

Selections from "Begin Again" by Anna McKenzie)

And so we must begin to live again
We of the damaged bodies
And the assaulted minds
Starting from scratch with the rubble of our lives
And picking up the dust of dreams once dreamt.

And as we stand there, naked in our vulnerability
Proud of starting over, fighting back
But full of weak humility
At the awesomeness of the task.

We take our first few steps forward
Into the abyss of the future
We would pray for
Courage to go places for the first time
And just be there
Courage to become what we have not been before
And accept it,
And bravery to look deep
Within our souls to find new ways.

We did not want it easy
But we did not contemplate
That it would be quite this hard,
This long, this lonely.

So if we are to be turned inside out
And upside down

With even our pockets shaken
Just to check what’s rattling
And left behind,
We pray that you will keep faith with us
And we with you

Monday, January 21, 2008

It is Over!

Original Post - Saturday, January 19, 2008

(re-ordered for chronological logic)

It is Over!

AMP had her 4th and final chemo treatment last Thursday!!! We opened up the Champagne, unplugged the M/M and have been partying. We are dismantling the cross of treatment and trying to imagine what it will be like to move forwards.

For the scrabble lovers, you will be pleased to know that those who suffer sometimes are rewarded. AMP decisively beat me in the 4th, but not final game. (I want a rematch.) She was dominant and shrewd. Without a scrabble dictionary to refer to, we had to trust each other and accept not only some questionable words, but also questionable explainations. For example, the turning point in our match occurred when she made the 70 point word benchers. She said a bencher is somebody at an elementary school who benches a kid. And when there is more than one bencher then there are benchers. I didn't feel comfortable challenging her, giving the circumstances. When I was able to consult a dictionary I discovered the following: the word bencher exists, but the definition is a) senior member of an Inn of Court or b)a member of the House of Commons. What should I do? Is this fair? Larry

There were 2 comments to the original post:


Anonymous said...

dear Amp -CONGRATULATIONS.! we are so glad that you are past this procedure. You and Larry been great in sharing and humanizing your experiences. So now its really a Happy New Year! cheers, val and tim

Jamie said...

Okay, if the word benchers is what pulled AMP ahead and clenched her win, I might argue the point. BUT if she was already kicking your butt and benchers was just another in her repertoire... well, then you're out of luck! Congrats on making it through your last chempo session AMP! You're a winner all the way around!
much love ♥ jamie

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Note: evidence of "medically-imposed" scrabble handicap - an icy eye-covering purported to minimize irritating ocular side effects of chemotherapy drug and cheating.

First of all - in no way did I suggest that a bencher is somebody at an elementary school who benches a kid. Unless the kid is on a sports team.I was referring to a sports term, a verb:
to remove from a game or keep from participating in a game: to be benched because of poor hitting.

I quite logically assumed that one who was removed from a game would be a benchee and one who performed the removal would be a bencher - therefore, if there were a number of people performing this function, such as rabid neighborhood soccer-basketball-baseball-you-name-it parent/coaches, they would be referred to as "benchers."

I do, however, admit to a minor error since I later found (as my husband would have, had he bothered to scroll further down in - that a bencher is actually the person who sits on the bench - ergo, multiple people (kids, athletes, heck - anyone!) sitting on a bench would be a group of "benchers." An error in definition, but a WORD none-the-less: a word, a noun, a plural.
  1. One that sits on a bench.
  2. Chiefly British A member of the inner or higher bar who acts as a governor of one of the Inns of Court.
  3. One, such as a magistrate, who occupies a bench.
In any case, it should be obvious that "benchers" alone could hardly put me in the outstanding lead I maintained throughout this final session. I won fair and square, the eyes seem to be holding up well and as far as cheating - where there's a will, there's a way:

Hopefully, I am now officially "benched"
from chemotherapy!!