Saturday, November 5, 2011

O-blah-dee O-blah-dah... Life Goes On.... BRA! (or not?)

Actually, I much more frequently went bra-less in the years prior to having a mastectomy. This may be too much information, but when they take it off, and take a lymph node (even one) with it, it leaves you prone to swelling or "lymphedemia"  -- a snug bra helps control that. Grrr.  You know how guys like to go "commando" -- I kinda felt the same way about brassieres. Seems those days are gone.
Not quite two years ago, I wrote entries below from a place of pain – both physical and psychic.

It also came from a place of fear and anger though tempered with the many lessons I’ve learned about managing those twin juggernauts – most especially to ask for help with them.

Since then, my physical recovery is very much on track. I am “cancer-free” at the moment though I still have to see one form of “cancer doc” every 4 months (though I believe that changes to every six after the next visit). My mammograms have all been good – though I only have to get one at each visit as there’s no mammary tissue on the left to “gram” anymore. And I only have to go for the big squish once a year now. (was ever 6 for awhile)  Blood tests are all good. I take my daily dose of tamoxifen and suffer my night sweats, hot flashes and leg cramps with equanimity of knowing that it beats dying of cancer. And its temporary until my estrogen stops flowing altogether.

In the end, I didn’t have to lose my hair from chemo or suffer the indignities (or burns or scars) of radiation therapy. There was nothing left to radiate and the odds of recurrence were calculated to be lower than what justified the poisoning of the rest of my body to prevent it.

I did suffer an emotional setback when Elizabeth Edwards – wife of politician John Edwards – died last year.  Her diagnosis and treatment had been much like mine. Diagnosed in 2004, she was – after surgical treatment and medication very like the one I take – in remission for a few years. Then in 2007 she was diagnosed with a recurrence at which time her cancer had spread to her bones. It killed her at age 61 in 2010.

And last year, I lost five friends or classmates to cancer. Five! That was a bit of an emotional challenge. A bit. 

But in the meantime, I’ve moved ahead. Continue to do my best to look to my aging parents best interest and spending quality time with them.. Finding the time that I can with the grandboys (three! All under age 2 ½).

I took (and finally passed) the Virginia bar exam. Last January I opened a private practice focusing on Elder Law. We moved into a newer (bigger) apartment. We have now upgraded both cars (we are both driving Mini Coopers!) with the complete faith that I will not only live, but grow mentally and spiritually and possibly even prosper materially.

I still volunteer at JABA as an “ombudsman” at one of the local nursing homes and with the Legal Aid Justice Center and now with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Services – trying to give back just a smidgen of the blessings that have been visited  upon me.

And for every pro bono case I have taken, a paying client seems to materialize – and then some! But I don’t truly believe in that sort of immediate, kharmic quid pro quo.

What do I believe in? Just the same old thing – put one foot in front of the other, do the next right thing and when I’m not sure – ask for help. And when I am asked, say yes.

Seems to be working so far