The Best Gift

Deeply touching article in Sunday’s AJC by friend and columnist, Daryn Kagan.

Read this article and check out other great stories and writing at DarynKagan.com


 

This is a “Thank You” note to my friend, Clare.

Clare, who has delivered the best gift this holiday season.

A gift for me.

A gift for you.

Clare, which rhymes with “Share.”

Clare who’s life has changed forever.

That’s what she’s sharing.

And boy, has she shared.

The amazing and generous Clare with her husband, Jay, and daughter, Sofi. What a gift!

Shared with her friends and Facebook community the hugest shock of her life.

That routine mammogram, the one she got just because she should, it showed a lump.

A lump she hadn’t felt.

Oh yes, we certainly are in that era where people can over share.

Not Clare.

She’s hit it just right.

As a fellow former CNN’er, she knows she has a bunch of journalists in her tribe.

Here’s the thing about that—we like to know stuff.

So when she describes the way doctors were able to do a double mastectomy and rebuild her breasts from tummy fat all in one operation, we, her people, are thinking, “They can do that? Who knew? That’s pretty cool.”

And weird and different and horrifying.

That’s what Clare shares.

“My breasts are way higher than they should be at 48 and I have a flat tummy,” she wrote. “It doesn’t look like me..but then it kind of does.”

I mean, if you have to have a souvenir from cancer surgery, why not perkier boobs and a flat tummy?

Which is not to make light of what she’s been through.

I’ve been to war with Clare.

Literally, I mean been to war.

We both covered the start of the Iraq war.

So I know she’s someone who can, who insists, who finds a moment to smile through the most horrifying of circumstances.

This brings me to the best part of Clare’s gift.

Of her sharing.

She will tell you huge parts of this diagnosis and surgery have sucked.

Capital “S” sucked.

Big time.

There was no holding back on a recent blog post where she shared this has been, “The most traumatic and horrific event I’ve ever been through.”

I love her most for that.

For that kind of sharing.

Not because I wish her a second of suffering.

Rather, because sometimes stuff is hard.

Really hard.

Absurdly, obnoxiously, 1000 on a scale of 1-10 hard.

When you share that, when someone strong and positive, upbeat like Clare shares that, I can exhale.

Blowing out a bit of the façade that life is easy.

Sometimes, it’s not.

But you know that.

So, to you, who is holding your breath as you read this, who has some really hard challenges this holiday season—your own health crisis, first time without the person you love, dreading meeting your father’s new girlfriend, a broken heart, cold toes.

Whatever.

I’m sending you this gift from Clare.

An invitation to let out a giant exhale.

A giant exhale.

Go ahead and do it.

It’s hard this year.

Some years are.

And that’s okay.

Okay to say.

Okay to share.

Just ask Clare.

Home Alone

 

My Mom and Dad just left after being here for a month. 🙁  I totally bawled like a baby as they were leaving.  I’m going to miss them soooo much. Getting to spend time like that with your parents is incredibly rare and special. Their love, support and caring was indispensable and absolutely integral to my healing. I’m blessed beyond measure.

I’m 4 weeks out from surgery and happy to report I’m starting to feel human again.  I’m still moving slowly and have hypersensitivity and numbness in numerous places (my breasts, arm and abdomen) but I’m mobile, off meds and able to do for myself for the most part. I try not to lift anything over 5 pounds, and I can’t reach anything on the top shelf yet..  but I can wash my hair, drive and go for mile long walks and short shopping trips. I’m totally knackered by 9pm and in bed. I’ve been able to get more sleep at night.. clocking 8 hours last night! Starting to feel like my old self. Not all the way there yet, but I can see such a tremendous difference in a short time. It’s mind-blowing how the body heals.

I met with my oncologist last week for the first time. He prescribed Tamoxifen (a hormone therapy that blocks estrogen in the body). I start that on December 1st. He also prescribed Lupron shots monthly. I won’t start that until January 1st. Lupron stops the ovaries from functioning, and thus stops estrogen production in the body. I will immediately enter menopause. I’m not gonna lie. I’m nervous about it, but I had estrogen positive cancer. Since I had a lymph node that tested positive for cancer, it means rogue cells *could* have gotten out into my body. Cancer could come back in the liver, lungs or bones.  It’s unlikely, but the best insurance policy against recurrence is to cut the estrogen in my body to zero.  I’m 48 years old and was probably close to menopause in the next couple of years anyway. I’m thrilled that my oncologist is willing to let me take Tamoxifen alone for a month to see how it affects me.. and then add the Lupron in January. That way, if I have any adverse effects from the Tamoxifen, I can report that and know it’s different from the onslaught of menopause.  If I really have a fit going into menopause after the Lupron shots, we can stop the monthly injections and rethink.  I feel like it’s a good plan I’m comfortable with.

I have an appointment with the physical therapist on December 17th. That’s the 6 week mark from surgery. I can honestly say that is the ONLY appointment I’m really looking forward to. I can’t wait to get started on getting back to exercise, mobility and seeing how much of the pain and numbness I can get rid of. The PT said it would be a “low and slow” return to exercise, but that I could expect to return to my life I knew before the cancer diagnosis. I’m hanging on to that quote fiercely.

In the mean time, I’m back to work. Being home alone was good for concentration. I got a lot accomplished. It feels really good to be back in the real world. Talking to customers, facility owners and my business partner!

I posted lots of pictures on Facebook in the last week, and I wanted to make sure to share them here. I’ll keep posting if there’s news to report. Overall, I’m one lucky girl. I’m counting my blessings and continue to be thankful for all the love and support shown to me and my family during this scary time. Thank you!

Team SchexNix took 2nd place in Palookaville Trivia
Team SchexNix took 2nd place in Palookaville Trivia
palookaville dad and clare
Beepaw and Sofi knew all the answers.

 

palookaville mom and sofi
Grammy Bear and Sofi Bean had some serious fun
Last Drain OUT! I present my cleavage and my first glass of wine in weeks!
Burning drain logs (I HATED those damn things!)
Burning drain logs (I HATED those damn things!)
Thankful!
Thankful!