September 30, 2013

Not a pink ribbon

Not A Pink Ribbon

Sweet-jesus-on-a-cracker tomorrow will be October. Last year I wrote a long Breast Cancer Awareness month plea. I’m going to do it again this year. Last year I was the newbie on the block, this year is different… Because I can officially say: been there, done that.

The reason I’m writing this piece is because it’s something I feel very strong about and I want other people to become more aware of what is really going on.

So what is wrong with the pink ribbon? It has become a marketing tool. We are supposed to feel good about buying pink stuff with pink ribbons on it. But in other words these products mean major profits and advertising for a corporation or organization. The sad part is that sometimes not even one dollar/euro or even a penny will go to breast cancer research. So when you’ll see that pink scarf designed by a famous star, or lip gloss, bracelets and pink shoes you normally would not buy; PLEASE READ THE LABEL. Rethink pink. I’m telling you right now you don’t even have to race for the cure. Just simply write your favourite charity a check. It’s that easy.

I’ve always felt ashamed of the fact this lasts an entire month. Because there are so many other diseases that do not even ‘get a day’. Why do we need an entire month of awareness? To listen to all the courageous stories? Cancer doesn’t care if you’re courageous. The pink ribbons and balloons do not speak of those with metastatic breast cancer. Because this would not be good for the fundraising campaigns.

That pretty little ribbon. Oh such a pretty feminine colour. Well let me tell you it has nothing, absolutely NOTHING to do with breast cancer. Because cancer will haunt you for the rest of your life. It will change your future. Cancer blows up in your face. It punches you in the stomach with fear and panic. Cancer takes your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. It takes and takes… and then some more. Cancer makes you feel empty, like you’re stuck in a black hole. It isolates you from the rest of the world. You will get test after test, you will be shoved into crazy loud machines and waiting for results seems to take forever. You will be poked at with needles, IV’s with hardcore cocktails, and the side effects are always horrible. Cancer takes away your confidence, and eventually your positivity. BUT NEVER YOUR HOPE.

It’s time to get the knots out of the ribbon.

September 16, 2013


I talked to my psych again. She wanted me to tell about the person I was before I got cancer. Which was hard. Because it reminded me of my old life. Little old me. The curly care free silly dreamer that turned into a neurotic sad little bird.

I told her I believe I'm not depressed, during our previous appointments, that I am just sad and anxious. But today she sort of made me think maybe I am. When I came home it was quite a shock to me. I hate labels. But I suppose it doesn't really matter whatever the fuck I'm calling it. It is what it is. I feel what I feel. I already came a long way accepting my feelings and I firmly believe positivity will not save you. I hate to break it to you but in my opinion it's true. You have to accept your negative feelings, make room for them and listen to them. Give them a voice as well so they don't become a silent panic within you.

I started an art journal which feels really good. It's mixed media, so I draw, paint, scrap book etc. etc. It feels good to have another outlet next to photography and writing. I also became a member of postcrossing. Which is a postcard exchange project that invites everyone to send and receive postcards from random places in the world. So I'm really trying to seek distraction. 

You Will Not Be Carried; A Strong Heart Adds Feather To The Heel  

So accept all of your feelings but also make sure there's a spark. Things that will make you happy. I know 'happy' is a word that some days do not apply. But try. Really try to find things close to you. Think of picking up a new hobby, or blow life into an old project. Because you need that strength, that energy, to keep going and going. We can't quit. We can't give up now. Up we go. 

P.s. My hair diary is updated.  

September 12, 2013


I did the 24 hour pee test. I collected my urine for 24 hours and brought it to the lab. In October I will have another appointment with an internist where I will get the results back from the urine and the blood test. Then I'll find out if I need to take medication as a precaution for osteoporosis.

I also saw my radiologist which was just a regular check up. Everything was fine.

This week I met our company doctor for the first time. We have been having our conversations over the phone for the last year. The appointment itself went okay I suppose. He understands I have to finish my Herceptin treatment before even thinking of going back to work. Which is good. It's just that I feel uncomfortable talking to another person about everything.

I still get upset so easily. Even when my boss just asks about my appointment with the company doctor. I get suspicious and anxious. People that are asking me about living with my parents. I really find it hard to talk to people again. I'm so scared of being judged. I realize I'm just very tired and vulnerable at the moment and that every word, every sentence they speak might be too much for me right now.

If that wasn't enough I also had another echocardiogram. Passed it with a steady ejection fraction of 62%. So at least that's good news. Her-crap-tin may continue.

I have been getting lots of reactions to my hair lately. Even three compliments by complete strangers who do not know any of my cancer story. Although I can not wait for my curls to come back,  I have to admit that did feel pretty damn good.

Today on the other hand, my neighbour did not recognize me with my post chemo hair. Awkwaaaard. 

I also had a really weird sincere moment with one of my parents' neighbours. He came to check out my dad's new Vespa. I was standing outside in my pink pyjamas and my bunny slippers and he walked towards me and just hugged me and told me they were thinking a lot about me. I felt so overwhelmed by this and got teary eyed right away. It just felt so honest and sincere.

Love and hope. How important.

September 6, 2013

Beast of burden

I'm exhausted. I spent the afternoon at the hospital yesterday. Today I had to see my radiologist. In other words; another trip to my favourite place in the whole wide world.

These appointments are still hard for me. They make me feel so sad. You think you would get used to it, but really you don't. Because #1 they are confronting you with your disease. And #2 there's always something new around the corner.

I spoke with a nurse about Osteoporosis because it runs in my family. My test results from the Dexa scan weren't that upsetting but it's very likely I will develop Osteoporosis later on in life (a lot of people do). So in order for them to make a plan and keep monitoring me I had to do more blood tests. Best of all, I get to do a 24 hour urine test. Really. I have to collect all of my pee for 24 hours. Sigh. Really makes you wonder where it will end?

All these appointments and tests are such a heavy burden. It's so hard to forget and just continue your day. I can't do that. Which brings me to my psych. I talked to her again and time fly by this time. Which is a good sign I suppose. I can also officially say, I think she's a good match for me now. She understands me. My character. She gets it. 

I don't know if I mentioned this, but I currently use Lorazepam for my anxiety and she wants me to talk to a psychiatrist about different options of medications. I have very mixed feelings about using an anti-depressant but then again... if it could make my life just a little easier right now. It seems worth checking into. 

We talked about being in the now. Which is very important for me because I'm struggling so much with the Herceptin and everything else (all the bears). We also talked (I cried like a baby) about chemo. I told her about my photography and how I feel it got me through chemo. She was very curious so I gave her my card and she said she would take a look at my work. I hope we get to talk about it next time. 

She told me that photography got me through rough times. The hardest part is over. I have to find my strength back. Things that inspire me, that give me back my drive. Things that make you forget the C-word for a while. Block those thoughts (and no there's no button). I have to start the count down on the Herceptin. I have to promise myself fun stuff, I need things to look forward to. So I will be able to finish this chapter of my treatment as well.