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What did they find? Nothing, nada, neits, ekkert (for you Sola!). They had a good old rummage around in there, paying particular focus to the pancreas but also the liver, gallbladder etc and I am all zippity do dah. No more pancreas tests for another 12 months – yippee!

I am all set for my ‘oopher’ removal on Monday. I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 am with my surgery booked for 7:20. If all goes well, I should be out in 2-3 hours. As you did for my other surgery, I would like you to think of me Monday morning, sending me love, light, imagine wrapping me in a beautiful pink blanket, rainbows, unicorns or even rainbow colored unicorns!!! Anything that works for you to send to me in love and health.

Thanks and love to all,
Amanda xxxx

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So here I am, sitting on the deck watching the waves lap onto the sunny shore. And yes, you would surmise correctly that I am not currently at home as we are being buried with snow in the Boston area. I am in Puerto Rico with a friend, having some sun and relaxation before heading home for more surgeries and then back to work.

We’ve been here since Thursday last week and are staying in the Condado region, just outside Old San Juan. The hotel is great, the location and beaches are amazing and the weather, well 85F each day. My body is making Vitamin D by the boat load! I have included two pictures of me below: one I am sitting in a chair shaped like a cat (not that you can see that), wearing my wig and the other is my friend, Deb and I at dinner on the beach, no wig.

With regards to health updates, tomorrow at 7:00am (welcome home!), I have to go for an upper G.I. to test for pancreatic cancer. It is something I will have to do each year as the BRCA2 gene mutation leaves me a little more prone to this than the average person and then on Monday, I am having my oophorectomy which removes my ovaries and Fallopian tubes. This is pretty easy surgery as it’s done laparoscopically but is recommended with BRCA2 as my chances of ovarian cancer are greatly increased. There are no indications that there is anything adverse going on down there, so hopefully I’ll be back on my feet very quickly. And as my friend, Liz so aptly put it, who needs those oophors anyway!

The saddest news though is that Smokey the rabbit went to the big bunny heaven in the sky on Wednesday last week, just before I left for Puerto Rico. Rabbits are very, very prone to stomach issues and he suddenly started to eat less and then Wednesday, nothing at all. We took him to the emergency vet and they told us he was very sick and having serious heart issues. We discussed the various options but in the end, decided to put him down as he was suffering and the likelihood of him recovering was small. Sarah was with me, we said goodbye, crying, and she held him as they administered the medicine. It was all over so quickly and so peacefully, but it is very somber to watch a life fade away. Rest In Peace you wascally wabbit.

And last but not least, a return to work is finally looming on my horizon. Assuming that all goes well with the oophers removal, I will go back on March 3rd, working three days for a few weeks, then up to four, then full time. I have not worked since July 9th. How will I get out of bed early enough each morning and will I remember what to do??? Eek, I hope so!

Love to all,
Amanda

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I am sure that many of you could not give a toss about football and although I am very happy that the Patriots won the Super Bowl, this post is not just about fan girling on the team, which I will immediately get over and done with: they were amazing, so happy for them and me as a big fan, redeemed themselves, stuck it to the haters, etc…..

No, there is more to it than that due to the whole Deflategate saga which unfolded the two weeks prior to the game. When I wasn’t alternating between being angry/disappointed that they may’ve cheated, mixed with defiance and support for them, I was able to watch the unfolding of this with a sense of space, with less emotional connection and was very disappointed in what I saw in the media, society and us as individuals, me included.

The minute the rumors began, there was a massive rush to judgment, there was labeling, there was the dismantling SO quickly of people who have spent years building their reputations. The sharks were in the waters and everybody and everything was fair game, pure bait with no protection. And I cannot write this without acknowledging it in me, too. If it had been a story about another NFL team, would I have climbed on the band wagon and said to myself ‘yes, I always thought they cheated’. And it’s not just around this, it happens in the media the whole time – judgments are made (he’s the Olympic bomber, they murdered their child), reputations are ruined and apologies made in small print on the back page.

We do it around individuals at work, at home. Someone makes a suggestion and suddenly I wonder if maybe they are a slacker, a poor employee, a crappy friend. What is it about us that makes us so happy to imagine someone else going down, grinding our collective heels in to their pain? Does this feeling of moral superiority make us feel better about ourselves? Does making others small make us bigger? If that’s it than shame on me, shame on you, shame on us. As I say to my girls the whole time, gossiping and making others look bad does nothing for your self-worth. That can only come from you and is built from the inside out.

I, personally, am sick and tired of the media being judge, jury and executioner. I will learn the facts, let those facts speak for themselves and then decide how I want to react. I will no longer be a media lemming at the expense of others, period.

Love to all with a picture of a lemming in case you don’t know what they are!

Amanda

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I did not loose my eyelashes and brows as fast and as obviously as the hair on my head. They disappeared quietly, without fanfare, a few hairs at a time, until one day I realized that I had no bottom lashes and on the top, on the right side in particular, about 6 that I could legitimately mascara, 3 of which fell out in a clumpette last week. But I am VERY happy to report that they are growing back and it is fascinating to watch. They are coming in in lines, like soldiers marching to battle. Each morning when I get up, I examine the latest growth in the mirror. Yes, I can see more growing, little itty bitty things like dots on my eye lids. And I smile. Going through cancer can provide gratitude for the smallest things. My eye brows are also getting much bushier but I do notice some grey hair in there, too, so don’t smile quite as much when I look at those!

So where am I in my treatment? Last Friday, I finished radiation. My skin is sore, but luckily not split or bubbling like a chicken in the oven which is how some experience it! The hospital tells me that for 7-10 days the irritation will get worse, but after that things will start to heal. I am rubbing endless amounts of cream on the affected area and smell quite wonderful (most of the time)! Last night I tried a sample I got from the health food store which was Dr. Hauschka’s Almond Body Lotion. I didn’t want to go to sleep as I kept sniffing myself it was so yummy! So physically I am getting there.

Emotionally? Hum….up and down. I felt like I might cry whilst having my final radiation treatment but in the end did not, getting my certificate of completion and ringing the end of treatment bell. But as I was explaining to friends, I see the whole thing like a comet with a long tail. The front end, the big kahuna is done, but there is much still to be experienced. BRCA2 raises my chances greatly of ovarian cancer, so I have to book my oophorectomy for this year. It also slightly increases my chances for pancreatic cancer, so have to have yearly tests for this, needing an Upper GI in the next month or so. Both of these procedures will leave me waiting for tests results, my now most hated way to spend time! And of course, the final breast implants and endless oncology appointments will keep the hospital well funded by me this year.

I did celebrate though, having dinner with friends on Friday night and with Steve on Saturday night, but the prevailing thought that comes to me is “Holy shit, I had CANCER.” The emotions that phrase evokes are so varied – sadness, gratitude, courage, fatigue, connection, loneliness – all with the potential to coexist at once.

Jim Morrison once said, “There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors”. I am standing in the hallway with one hand on the door of this past year. It is closed behind me but the memory and energy of it still exist as my hand touches the doorknob, not yet ready to let go but knowing that eventually, I will.

Love to all,
Amanda

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“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.” Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf

I was originally just going to write about my experience with the wolves but after posting this quote with my coaching circle, the following questions came back to me – “Do you see yourself, your life in this quote anywhere? How are you the wolf.”? After pondering this for a while, I realized that yes, I do see myself in this quote. One of my BIG triggers is when I believe others have a negative perception about who or what I am. Dependent on who they are, I want to make them like, respect, value etc., me. This can be a tough row to hoe as, of course, I have no control over others. One of my therapists once said, “what others think of you is none of your business”. Needing others’ approval is on my list of things I’d like to shift in 2015.

So back to the real wolves. Our tour started with some pretty grim facts about the hunting and eradication of wolves during the last century. Many of you may know the success story of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and their incredible impact on the environment. Check out the four minute video at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q on this. However, it is clear that the animosity towards wolves is still alive and well, including killing supported by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. My father-in-law sent me a great article that highlights both the conservation challenges and the possibilities for the future at http://www.oregonwild.org/wildlife/wolves/the-journey-of-or7.

Having my wolf, Leila as my spirit guide, I wondered how I would feel being at the sanctuary, among real wolves. When I connect with her energetically, she feels light and free, peaceful and wise, allowing me to bring those elements in to myself. The energy of the wolves in the sanctuary was different – powerful, majestic and strong but still with an amazing grounded wisdom. I felt no fear, but certainly experienced their strength as I fed them, getting knocked over a few times! Power and strength are particularly important to me as when I believe that things are happening to me not with me, I feel small and powerless, afraid and anxious. A theme for this past year, that’s for sure.

So check out the pictures below from the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. We also hung out with some cute, chubby foxes!

Lots of love,
Amanda

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Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/user/sequinofkindness! I am featured in Episode 6, which you can either watch in it’s entirety or in shorter segments that are labelled as to their content. I discuss how I am spreading the energy of love, peace and connection through my  “You’ve Been Flowered” program.  Enjoy!

If you happen to live in Chelmsford and want to see when it’s on the telly, go to http://www.chelmsfordtv.org/schedule.

And here, also, is a picture of me being attacked by wolves from my visit to the wolf sanctuary this week (they are really just after the food in my hands!).  More to come on the trip.

Love to all,
Amanda

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I have not written for a few weeks due to the holiday season.  It’s not that I have been busy, but rather very pensive, thinking about 2014 and pondering what 2015 might bring for me, although who the bleep knows, right?

But here I am, right now, in Colorado Springs, starting  2015 with an adventure! I have been allowed a few days off from radiation to give my burned skin a chance to heal a little before the final week of my treatment. I am using this time to take a trip to Colorado Springs to hang with wonderful women and wolves! I have joined a women’s group and we will work together for ten months on a journey of self discovery and growth via phone, skype etc., but are meeting in person this weekend. We are from all over – Texas, London, California and me from Boston. Steve thinks the whole thing is very bizarre, cavorting with people I’ve never met in a house in the middle of nowhere and visiting wild animals that could eat me.  And I suppose if you look at it like that, perhaps he’s right! But those of you that know me are not at all surprised, I’m sure.

And why wolves in Colorado Springs?  I have always been fascinated by them and about ten years ago, I discovered that I have a beautiful white wolf as my spirit guide.  The energy of her brings me comfort and wisdom.  This women’s group is about using the energy of wolf in our everyday lives and we are spending half a day at a wolf sanctuary here.  The thought of looking a real wolf in the eye gives me the chills. I have attached a link to the energy of wolf if any of you are interested:  http://www.spiritanimal.info/wolf-spirit-animal/

I am also craving an oasis in time, space to just be with my inner wisdom after all I have already been through and the pieces I have to face this year. Apparently, there are two times when cancer patients have the propensity for depression: when first diagnosed and when finishing treatment. I certainly experienced the former but have been wondering how treatment end would hit me. Well in therapy this week, I discovered, getting in touch with the massive vulnerability I feel, sobbing all over the therapist! It’s particularly acute for me as this is a cancer repeat performance and with the BRCA2, know just how vulnerable I am, along with my girls. My sense of invincibility is rocked to its core.

I want to make clear that I am not sinking into depression, but our feelings demand to be heard and acknowledged, to be brought out in to the light and loved.  So in my pondering on this past year, I have decided that I would not change a thing – nothing, nada.  Did I enjoy it all?  No, of course not.  Would I want to repeat it?  God, I hope not.  Is this journey bringing me gifts?  Yes, some of which I fully recognize and some of which need yet to be uncovered (subject matter for a future post).  So here I stand, at the beginning of another year, ready to embrace all of life’s adventures, big and small.

Happy New Year and I’ll let you know how it goes with the wolves.

Love to all

Amanda

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Every two weeks at The Healing Garden, I attend an In-Treatment Support Group. At our meeting last week, the therapist who leads our small, intimate sessions distributed the following poem by Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks.

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

This poem resonated very strongly for me as I have been feeling so many different emotions on this journey of mine around my health, family, work.  I have taken on the practice of naming my emotions and sending them love, whether I feel upset, disappointed, scared, hurt, used.   It is amazing that this approach liberates me from the spiraling head, the thoughts of righteous indignation, the ‘what ifs’, the sleepless nights spent analyzing a situation.   I recognize my feelings, give them a bed, tuck them in with a warm blanket and a glass of hot milk and honey. Letting them in is NOT about festering or holding on but about being authentic, facing what I am feeling. It is just amazing how quickly things shift when I take this approach. And I can nurture how I feel, deciding what’s at the root of it, what I can learn and last but not least, what do I want to do about it. Is there something I need to change or voice? I am not controlling or managing how I feel, I am being still and listening and that, for me, makes all the difference. And after all, who wouldn’t want to be swept out for a new delight!

Love to all,
Amanda

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Two Men and A Booby

For those unaware of my health history, I have walked the radiation path before when in 2011 I had early stage, non-invasive BC, choosing a lumpectomy and radiation.  I had, at that time, visions of warm, comfy rooms where female nurses helped me with my treatment.  No such thing!  Last time, I was in a strange space that resembled a closet that happened to hold radiation equipment and I was attended mostly by two men with the odd woman around every now and again.

Well this time, I have received a slight upgrade which I am not sure is a good thing!  I am now in the fancy radiation room that looks nothing like a closet.  It’s state of the art and the equipment is pretty impressive I must say.  The room is bloody cold to keep the aforementioned fancy equipment at its optimal temperature whilst I lie there half naked freezing my butt (and other parts) off.  And yes, once again, I have two men as my new radiation BFFs, one of whom I had before.

I have had three treatments so far and today, I feel sick of it already.  I am tired of driving to the hospital, I am tired of lying on cold equipment whilst I am fried and although the people are wonderful, I am tired of seeing them all over again!  I would like to be spirited off to a warm desert island where the name Lahey Clinic is nowhere to be seen.

On a more positive note, I am going to be on TV, sans wig, talking about ‘you’ve been flowered’.  It’s not Oprah yet, just local TV, but us philanthropists have to start somewhere!  We’re filming next Wednesday.  I’ll write more about it in the next few days.

Love to all

Amanda

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10) I shower in five minutes and am ready to leave the house in fifteen
9) I do not have to shave my legs or arm pits (yeah!)
8) I save a lot of money not having to cut and highlight my hair or buy endless fluffing, thickening or smoothing hair products
7) A lot of people stare at me – some even smile and talk
6) I go out in all manner of weather and have no fear of flat or frizzy hair
5). I can change my hair-do in a flick of the wrist
4) I let my head steam when I go to Zumba and sweat a lot
3) I get a lot of head massages as people want to touch the growing peach fuzz
2) I can go to parties as Spock, Gandhi or Kojak
1) I am getting great treatment to ensure my cancer doesn’t return

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Amanda

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