Yesterday I found out that a young woman who I was introduced to via social networking shortly after I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma had passed away from her cancer. She was only 40 and left behind a husband and two young sons, and her name is Dawn.
While my mole was simply removed with a wide-margin surgery, her treatment was to take out a couple of her lymph nodes in her groin to biopsy them as well along with the mole removal. Dawn’s treatment was considered successful after her second lymph node surgery, CT and PET scans in the winter of 2009, a full year before my diagnosis and treatment. She was instructed to get a mole check every three months; I went in every six.
Her story is both frightening similar and altogether different from mine. I don’t compare my situation her hers to bring attention to myself, but as a simple reminder to that I don’t believe that fate has anything to do with how our lives turn out. It’s simply luck, whether good or bad. I didn’t “deserve” getting cancer, and Dawn certainly didn’t “deserve” to die. A roll of dice has left me cancer-free (as far as I know), but her death has shaken me to the quick. In another six months, my diagnosis could be as equally dire. Like her, I look back on past symptoms (the severe breast pain; the bone-melting fatigue) and wonder if the doctors really did weigh in my past diagnosis.
I don’t want to harp on you, my friends, the seriousness and dangers of tanning, whether by bed or sun, but if my story of survival doesn’t convince you that you need to be sun-conscious, I hope that Dawn’s life and her legacy does.
Having friends in the computer can really pay off. Olivia Drab scored me an autographed pantyliner. Not just any pantyliner. An Always Pantyliner. The Cadillac of Pantyliners. Trust me on this.
And not just any autograph. An autograph from Jenny Lawson. And who is Jenny Lawson? The Bloggess.
Olivia updated on Facebook how she was in line to have The Bloggess sign her book,Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and I excitedly (and half-jokingly) begged her to get an autograph for me as well since I know I would personally never have the opportunity. I suggested she hand her a pantyliner or something for Jenny to sign. So she did. When handed the pantyliner, Jenny said, “That is so AWESOME!”
No, Jenny, YOU are awesome (and so is Olivia Drab, of course!).
I received this message from a friend today and am paraphrasing it here.
This is an emergency post. I am writing because my dear friend’s husband was diagnosed with leukemia today. I am reaching out to you all because I know you have dealt either with cancer, infertility or both, and some of you have fairly extensive networks.
Her husband begins chemo on October 25 (this Tuesday). They need to find a sperm bank they can go to on Monday in the DC area. Please, if you have any leads to reputable places AND ideas about the questions she and her husband should ask, email them to me here: thismamasaid (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment.
I’ve also sent a message to Mel at Stirrup Queens as I plan to use all the resources I have at my hand to help.
A drive with two younger children will make you appreciate the smaller things in life. Like handheld gaming devices, smart phones, and DVD players with wireless headphones. I’ll admit that this past weekend’s trip to Denver and back is making me seriously rethink our Disney World trip in February. Sparring Partner and I have been to Colorado a handful of times and we find it both inspiring and rejuvenating. The scenery is never boring, even in the very eastern part of Colorado where the only thing to break up the horizon might be a small oil rig or a farm of wind generators. We thought that Doodicus might enjoy the adventure. We imagined him awestruck by seeing the mountains for the first time. We did not foresee what seemed to be his endless whining and complaining, including the statement, “This is lame!” Ah, the age of 9… We pressed on making the most of the trip. Our hotel in downtown Denver was perfect in both accommodations and view.
We were a five minute walk from the 16th Street Mall where the four of us enjoyed a handsome cab ride at dusk.
Sparring Partner and Doodicus attended what was our son’s first professional baseball game at Coors Stadium. While they were at the park, I met up with an amazing blogger from the area, Lori Lavender Luz. Many topics were brought up while none were finished thanks to one pee break, one poop break (false alarm) and a teary breakdown after taking a thunk to the forehead. I’m referring to Aitch on all three interruptions, by the way. I was further honored when she said that after mentioning to Melissa Ford she was meeting with me that Mel told her to tell me “Hi!” I forgot (or maybe that was the first potty break request) to return the greeting, so “Hellooo!!” to Mel if she’s still reading.
During our trip if we weren’t driving or eating, we were checking out the pool of whatever hotel we were staying in. The pools (I accidentally typed “poos”, which is ironic) were sub par at best. One had the free-weight equipment right next to the pool, including the exercise balls, which was made into an improved beach ball by a group of drunk youth. Another pool was totally grody to the point you couldn’t see the bottom and the chlorine levels were so high, we choked on the fumes. And for some reason, I can’t remember the third…whatever. It sucked, too.
One of the best parts of the trip was Garden of the Gods. It was the only site the kids asked to see again, so we actually went back the next day when everyone was wearing shoes instead of flip-flops and I wasn’t wearing white pants.
On our last full day, we took the cog wheel railway up Pike’s Peak. When I researched ticket prices, I thought they were a tad high, but after all was said and done, they were worth the $40 per adult (children’s are lower). I was surprised when Aitch fell asleep literally in my arms on the way up. The gentle swaying of the train, the ceaseless noise and the fresh air did her in.
The day couldn’t have been better for a trip up the mountain. It was above 80 when we left the station and 50 at the peak (windchill around 40-something), but clear and relatively calm. The next morning as we were leaving Colorado Springs, you couldn’t even see the mountain range.
Doodicus enjoyed a couple donuts at the top and some photo opportunities with his dad as I was inside the gift shop (tourist trap) trying to make Aitch happy after she woke up cold and in unfamiliar surroundings. She was easily appeased with a stuffed fox that she dressed up in her bracelets all the way back down the mountain, which is when she also discovered a hole in one of its seams (cheap touristy crap!).
Aitch did really well on the entire vacation, only asking to go home the day before we actually did. At the last hotel we stayed at, I slept with her. I was already awake when the next morning I got to watch her come out of her slumber. She opened her eyes, saw me and smiled. Then she reached out her little arms and pulled me in for a kiss. Seriously, that girl heals me in so many ways. Potty training started almost suddenly the weekend before and even though we traveled long distances with her in a diaper, she wore underwear most of the time (with the exception of bedtime) without incident.
Doodicus liked the rock scrambling and the arcade at the travel center in Grand Island. What can I say? He’s nine-teen going on four. I was thankful for the meds which kept me from clubbing him with a rock when he made the “this is lame” statement.
We found most everyone to be friendly and warm, and not just staff. Something those here in Nebraska who spew the most about “Midwestern Values” should take note of. It’s beautiful out there. I strongly recommend you make a trip to the Colorado Springs area.
I have been very fortunate over the years to have formed bonds with dozens of bloggers. Many no longer actively blog but we keep in touch via Facebook or Twitter (and now G+). I’ve even had the honor of meeting a few, including the only blogger I know that admits living in North Dakota.
You might know her, too. Her name is Erin. She use to write at Viva La Columbia, documenting the adoption of her two sons from Columbia. After she brought home her second son, her personal story got a little too complicated, even to blog about, so she stopped writing. Sadly, she later told me that she and her husband divorced.
Off and on over the next couple of years we’d touch base with each other, and eventually she started dating a very sweet man who doted on the boys. And then?
Well, eight months ago she sent me a shocker of a message. After years of dealing with PCOS and infertility, which led to the adoptions, she was pregnant for the first time!
I would now like to congratulate Erin, who gave birth to a beautiful boy earlier this week. My heart swells with joy for my friend who is now raising three amazing sons with the help of a loving partner!
A high-school friend of Sparring Partner’s and her husband came to visit us over the weekend. We don’t hear from them often as she’s often jet-setting around the globe, but a few weeks ago during a long phone conversation she admitted to SP that they had gone to our very own reproductive endocrinologist for a donor egg cycle as well as an attempt at a subsequent frozen embryo transfer. She did not get pregnant. Dee (let’s call her Dee, shall we?) asked if at a later date she could pick my brain about it, and of course I’m always up for a good brain-picking.
While they were visiting the topic did turn to infertility and going through treatments. We compared notes and swapped horror stories about progesterone in oil (PIO) shots. I shared the time I had hit a vein (or something) with the needle and blood shot out of the hole on my ass; she shared how she had to have an infected subcutaneous mass, which was most likely due to her PIO shots, surgically removed from her ass. She won that “Which Sucks More” contest. We went on to compare costs, the number of eggs retrieved and transferred, protocol, etc., etc. Dee and her husband are now considering adoption and overseas surrogacy.
After they left, Sparring Partner told me that our conversation had brought up a lot of unpleasant memories for him. Things he admits he had forgotten about. Was glad to have forgotten. I can’t say I blame him.
These are not things I think about every day. Not any more, and for that you have no idea how relieved we both are. My life revolved around infertility and miscarriages from November 2004 until July 2008, just a little over four years. For some, a very short time; for others? An unimaginable waste of time and energy. Reading posts from my old blog always brings back very painful memories. Some so painful, I wonder how in the world could I have forgotten them until the moment I read those words again. Forgotten is probably not the best word for it: Repressed is more accurate, don’t you think?
I read very few infertility blogs now. When my friend Serenity wrote about an anonymous commenter suggesting she should be happy with what she’s already got (paraphrased in regards to secondary infertility (SIF)), I got my rage on. I remember tackling that topic so many times and reading her words once again brought out all those feelings I had repressed. I dug again in my archives and stumbled into one of my posts that actually was never published on my blog, but through a blog that no longer exists, created by Dawn Friedman. To create the link, I have now published it on my old blog (which if you still have in your reader, you’ve already seen). I would really love for you to go read it as I think it’s one of my better posts when it comes to SIF.
Dee’s visit coincided with this week being National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), April 24 – 30, 2011. I don’t advocate myself as much as I use to when it comes to infertility, and in many ways I regret that because the camaraderie and support from my fellow IF bloggers was (and still is!) second to none. However, at some point, I’ve both consciously and subconsciously made decisions that distance myself in order to protect what is left of my sanity. New worries and concerns (a son with ADHD and possibly ODD) (cancer) (eventually a child who needs to know her donor story) replace what has been archived. But I will always – ALWAYS – make myself available for questions, conversations, and debate when it comes to infertility and miscarriage issues.
I am grateful that I don’t have to deal with infertility issues every day like I did in the “good ole’ days”, but I am more grateful that when they do come up, I can offer a shoulder, words of encouragement, and most importantly when it comes to infertility – an ear to just listen.
Since I moved from my old blog to this one, I have been cautious about exposing too much of my previous identification. Once burned, twice raped by those in your real life who want to be up in your biz…and all that. Now that I haven’t been around the bitches from where I worked because 1) I don’t work there anymore; and 2) Stalker took a job in The Metro and hauled her whore-ass out of town, I am once again considering welcoming other people from IRL back here, especially those I am friends with on Facebook.
And then I go back to that “once burned” thought and I rein myself in. I guess I’ll wait a little bit longer before I update my old blog with a post that I can now be found here.
Instead, I am comfortable enough to share where I blog from (no, I’m not referring to the laptop I prop on one knee while I sit in my rocking chair situated in the living room), but where geographically, which is Nebraska, US of A. I know. Most of you probably already knew that, but hey, a blogger past her prime can still dream that she can pick up a new reader now and then.
While I have found an incredible sense of camaraderie through the community of blogging, I have to admit that not having a chance to actually get together with a fellow bloggers is one of the detriments to being a blogger in a what is considered a very rural part of the country where people generally still don’t have a clue as to what a blog is! I am pea-green with envy of those of you who mention spontaneous luncheons with another blogger who lives across town. You have no idea how lucky you are.
I’ve tried at different times to find other bloggers in Nebraska. Currently, I know less than a handful who do. So I’m putting out feelers once again for people who maintain a personal blog. I’ve found a syndicated blog, Momaha.com that networks in Omaha (obviously), but only a couple of the contributors have their own blog. I’m not a big follower of community blogs for a variety of reasons, one being rather petty: the truncating of posts. I know, I know. Bloggers, especially pros, don’t want their content stolen and it gives them a more accurate way to collect stats…whatever. I don’t like it.
So I’m collecting a list of Nebraska bloggers. I’m not particular about topics, but prefer to find “personal blogs”, not “Here’s what’s going on in the Capital Building today!” or “Today’s Spring Game for the Huskers was cancelled due to a blizzard!” (which, dudes, we totally had a blizzard today complete with an accumulation of around 8″ and ice and drifts and shit!) (however, I have no idea if the game was cancelled, nor do I care). So if you know of a blogger who lives in Nebraska or you ARE a blogger in Nebraska, shout it out. I’m going to start a new page with the links. Maybe someday this will lead to a CornFab or at the minimum, a spontaneous luncheon with a fellow Nebraskan blogger.
* This is the name of an actual blog. HOWEVER, this person not only has her blog as private, but she’s in Illinois. ILLINOIS! Please. That is so not on the prairie.