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Pancreatic Update

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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Even when they don’t leave the house! Yesterday, Victoria set off for the mall and about an hour later, our carbon monoxide monitors go bananas – danger, danger, evacuate, evacuate they scream at us, frequently, very loudly and at high decibels. Having never had this happen, we were unsure what to do, except put our hands over our ears and rush around the house in a pickle. After getting our act together, we call the fire station which is literally down the road and in they sweep, husky men to the rescue. Just what is it about a fireman in uniform? Is it the color yellow? Doubtful. Is it all that equipment hanging from their belts? Hmm. Is it visions of YMCA running through my head? Hmm again. I warned Sarah she was in for a treat but at only 14, I think she thought I was in the midst of a weird middle aged fantasy! No acknowledgement from me on that score, no indeedy! A little disappointed though as two of them looked like they were just out of high school and the other was older than Steve with a similar middle aged spread.

The carbon dioxide culprit was determined to be Victoria who had sat in the garage with the engine on, garage door closed, texting, playing trivia crack and generally doing whatever teenage girls do before she left on her trip. Perhaps if Steve won’t wear the Captain Kirk outfit, he might be more amenable to a fireman’s suit, tool belt ‘n all?? Or perhaps I’ll pay Victoria to do it again? Sigh.

Love to all,
Amanda

Steve is away this week, golfing with ‘the boys’ in Florida. Sarah, my youngest, is almost 14 but has always had a penchant for wanting to sleep with me. For years she slept next to me on the floor on a comforter because she wanted to hold my hand as she went to sleep and didn’t want to be in her own room. As you can imagine, this eventually stopped when she was 10ish. I didn’t mind too much as trying to go to sleep with my arm stretched over the side of the bed was getting mighty uncomfortable and truth be told, I wasn’t as appreciative of the connection as she was.

But I was just so touched that even at this age, when she knew Steve was going away, she just looked at me, raised her eye brows and I nodded. We rubbed our hands together in glee, we were going to be holding hands in the dark once more. I think I am more excited than she is. Each night when I go to bed, there she is all snuggled up and warm in my bed, with her face calm, her beautiful eyelashes fanned out over her closed eyes. I slip into bed, kiss her softly on her cheek and take her warm, slightly sweaty hand in mine, feeling enveloped with love as I drift off to sleep. Such a simple act, such impact on my heart.

Below is a picture of Sarah with her rabbit, Smokey.

Love to all,
Amanda

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I Have Eyelashes!

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

Dancing With Wolves

“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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