A stress free Thanksgiving……

and other lies we tell ourselves.

I will officially have lived in the Inland Northwest nine years this coming January. Nine years after driving away from the only life I have ever known.

Since we have moved here we have never done the same thing twice for Thanksgiving. We have: gone to the casino, gone to a friends, had turducken, had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, served at a soup kitchen, and have dinned somewhere nice.

This year I asked my son what he wanted to do for Thanksgiving. It was a time to actually give thanks. I am cancer free, done with surgery and treatments. We should celebrate everything. He asked for a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving. So that means turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and lots of gravy.

Since I was working the day before and the day after I really didn’t want to make a big mess in the kitchen. So sticking with our tradition of doing something different each year I decided to order one of those pre-cooked dinners from the grocery store. I ordered the traditional turkey dinner. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls, and cranberry sauce. I ordered a small side of green been casserole too since my son likes it. The advertisement says it is fully cooked. How difficult can it be? I ordered and set our pick up time as 9AM. The deli worker said I will need to warm the turkey up and it would take about an hour and half. That should work out great. I am baking a sugar creme pie that I have never even heard of until two weeks ago. It takes about an hour and half. That will free the oven up for turkey and time to reheat all the pre-cooked foods.

When Keith came home with the food it was not what I expected at all. There was a turkey that you can tell had just barely been defrosted in time. It said on the directions that it needed to be in the oven for 3 to 3 and 1/2 hours, yikes! All the side dishes were ones that you could just buy out of the deli in the prepackaged food ‘ready-to-go’ section. I thought it was going to be made at the deli. The turkey took forever to warm through. I put the stuffing in the oven for the last 30 minutes to heat it up. The gravy was simmering on the stove top and the mashed potatoes were in the microwave. Three minutes is what the directions said. Mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls are my favorite part of the holiday dinner. All the carbs on one plate. I was looking forward to the potatoes.

When they came out of the microwave and I stirred them it was like water. WATER! Noooooo! In my eyes dinner is ruined. The turkey was taking forever, the potatoes runny. Ugh. I asked where we may go since dinner sucked. They laughed and said the turkey will be fine and we still have gravy and rolls. I popped the potatoes back in the microwave for five more minutes. They finally stiffened up and actually tasted great. Disaster averted.

I bought a frozen apple pie and a chocolate creme pie. It is a good thing too, the sugar creme pie texture is different. And the taste is kind of bland. maybe that is how it supposed to taste?

Anyway dinner was fine. We ate too much. There was very little clean up, and I hung out with my family. All wonderful things in my book.

A side note: The day before Thanksgiving my doctor emailed me my blood work results. My cholesterol is up too high. She said I need to lay off the carbs. Lay off carbs, ugh. Also I went to a Turkey Burn Zumba class on Saturday. It was 90 minutes long. NINETY!!! It felt great.

The picture is a Thanksgiving that happened four years ago. A friend was celebrating living in her first home and wanted to make dinner. This is also me 25 pounds ago. I think I really do need to lay off the carbs…


Moving Forward: Letting Go Of The Past

Jay Colby

The Pain

We’ve all been hurt before whether it was by a complete stranger, family member, close friend or significant other. It’s pretty much inevitable for us to experience some kind of emotional pain. Sometimes the pain from this can affect us in our daily lives and cause us to hold grudges, and anger towards people who in some cases did nothing to cause us pain. This can be challenging when navigating relationships both professional and personal.

The Next Step

Stuck in the past? Are you concerned about the wrongs people have done to you in the past? A lot of times it is hard to shake these depressing thoughts and not hold on to the pain that person caused. The issue then becomes much bigger than the “hurt” but what we do with it is more vital than the hurt itself. If we hold on to the pain it…

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Last night I slept without a bra on….

I know this may not seem like much to you. In fact I would venture to guess the majority of people sleep without bras on. I used to be one of those people.

When I had the double mastectomy with reconstruction I came home from the hospital wearing a velcro wrap. It was tight and uncomfortable. It was necessary to wear to keep the swelling down and to make sure my new foobs stayed in place and would look symmetrical. Eventually I was allowed to exchange the wrap for a sports bra. I had to wear the sports bra all the time, including at night.

As time went on and the expanders were filled to the capacity I wanted, I was able to wear my ‘pretty bras’ again during the day. At night the expanders were so uncomfortable and unmovable that I would wear the sports bra or the surgery bra to bed to be a buffer. Laying on my side was tricky and the support of a bra helped.

Because of chemotherapy the exchange surgery had to be postponed for months. MONTHS! I had to wear the hard and awkward expanders for ten months. That meant continuing to sleep in a bra or some sort of supportive garment.

Last night I felt confident enough to sleep without a bra on. I slept on my side, on my back and on the other side. It felt wonderful and honestly I almost felt normal. NORMAL!?!?!?!?! Is that such a thing? I can’t even recall feeling normal, except for those rare occasional moments that last for just a minute or two.

I have a followup appointment this coming week with the plastic surgeon. I think everything looks great, as great as it is can get considering. I am looking forward to her telling me that. And that I will be able to jog again. And that I can wear my pretty bras that I just bought from an online company that specializes in bras for mastectomy and reconstruction patients. They are expensive but very pretty. I want to be as normal as possible, I think the new bras will help. So will the jogging. So will the ‘all is clear and good’ from the doctor.

No bra at night, pretty bras during the day. Who knows, next I might wear jeans again.


Because I can…..

I was asked the other day at work if I had any fun plans for the weekend. I said yes, we are going to Leavenworth. “Are you going for the Christmas lighting?” No. “Are you going for wine tasting?” No. I am going because I can.

My life has been on hold for the past year. Yes we squeezed in some fun things in between surgeries and treatments and naps. Yet it really feels like I have done nothing for a year. Living in a dark place, fighting to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

This trip was important to me. It was a way of defining the new me. The second chance at life. The beginning of a new beginning. The defining moment of forgetting the past 12 months.

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We have been there before so we hit all our favorite spots. Lunch at the Soup Cellar, salami from Cured and our favorite The Cheesemonger. Nothing spectacular. Found a few Christmas presents but all in all just an average tourist day for us. It was a fairly nice day, a little fog (which I LOVE) and crispness to the air.

When we decided to leave after hitting the ‘Ye Olde Starbucks’ (everything there has to be in old school German style to add to the tourist expectations) I asked my son if I could sit in the back so I could nap. I still don’t have my full stamina back and after working full-time this week I need all the naps I can get.

I rested my eyes and body. All the while listening to the music of Death Cab for Cutie playing in the background and my favorite sound of all my husband and son in full on conversation. Hearing them talk about anything and everything and making each other smile is my favorite sound. Always has been and always will be. Hearing them have a relationship that is easy like a friendship is wonderful. The top picture is the ceiling of my car. It is what I was staring at while thoroughly enjoying the moment. This is a beautiful place to start over.

When we arrived home we stopped for dinner at our favorite Mexican food restaurant.20161112_174405

I snapped this shot to remind me of how lucky I am to have these two. They love each other, they care about me and my well-being and they make me happy.

Also I took a picture of this parking spot. We think it means handicapped, pregnant women and people with canes. What do you think?20161112_181810

Today was the day that I feel like I am finally on the onward and upward side of this. Because I can.

PS: James I tried a new drink today. It was the Creme Brûlée Latte. Pretty tasty. And I should get points for mentioning the Death Cab for Cutie…if only I could remember the name of the song. Paula I know AJ gets tagged a lot in Leavenworth photos. Do you three go?

When someone else has to wipe your ass and other gross stuff…

When I started this blog it was intended as a place for me to write about my revenge plan. I wanted revenge on a friend in a certain race. I wanted revenge on my fluffy body. I wanted revenge on my mind for being too lazy to turn my wog into a run.

When the diagnosis came it was a safe space to talk about my cancer and what I was going through. None of my friends and family knew about the blog or followed it.

It is totally still a revenge on my mind and body blog. It is just a perspective shift.

Anyway, there is nothing more humbling than being treated for cancer. All the research in the world will not prepare you for what you are going to go through. You are fully aware that surgery will make you sore. You know chemotherapy will make you tired. The weekly doctor visits will make you poor. The reconstruction fills will make you ache. Expanders do not fit in a bra. You will always have scars.

What you may not be prepared for after a double mastectomy with reconstruction  is not being able to wipe yourself clean after going poop. Not being able to shower and worse yet not being able to lean forward over the sink to have your hair washed.

The hubby and I never really thought about the poop thing until a friend suggested I buy a spray bottle to ‘wash’ myself off with. Hubby freaked. “I don’t know if I could do that” “What am I going to do if I have to wipe your butt?”  Thankfully we never really had to deal with that. The pain meds and surgery make you so stopped up (ugh) that by the time I had a bowel movement I was able to take care of business myself.

Not being allowed to shower until the five drains came out was also humbling. My hubby took me to the local hair/beauty school so I could sit in a chair and lean back to have someone wash my hair for me.

I had a friend come over and she sponged bathed me. Not that the hubby wouldn’t do it he was just so exhausted that he never thought of it and I was so tired and drugged I couldn’t verbalize it. She took me in the bathroom and gave me a good scrubbing.

All of it is very humbling, somewhat embarrassing and very much a punch in the face to realize you are vulnerable and have to be trusting. Cancer is not only a jerk but it is also gross. Not many people talk about the gross ass wiping part. I for some reason felt I needed to talk about it. I think because I am realizing how deep my husbands love for me must be. How strong I connect with a few of my friends. And mostly how humble I have to become. I realize how lucky I am that the revenge I am taking on my cancer makes me a better person. Compassion, humility, vulnerability, and stronger at expressing love, emotions, and gross stuff.

Bonus gross: the picture for the ‘No Shave November’ makes me think about how I couldn’t shave my armpits for weeks! Couldn’t life my arms above shoulder height. Poor doctor had to look at the hairy pits for weeks!




November 3rd.

One year ago today.

It is a date I will likely never forget. I have forgotten my mother’s birthday, my phone, doctor appointments, how to do my job and underwear. I will never forget November 3rd.

Yesterday I celebrated. I celebrated being alive, a loving husband, lime mimosas, a day at the spa, the living of life happening all around me. Celebrating being a fighter.

One year ago today. That is when I got the call at work. The call that will forever be etched in my head. The call that started the change within me. The call that I indeed had cancer.

A day that changed me forever. I am no longer the same. I know I look different on the outside thanks to chemotherapy and all the surgeries. Yet the inside, oh the inside is so different now. I do not think the same as I used to. I love differntly. I live differently. I laugh differently.

There are days I feel guilty that my cancer was not as horrible as my friends. There are days I do not want to get out of bed. Days of feeling sorry for myself. Days full of energy and optimism. Days that make for restless nights. Days of courage, empathy, compassion, selfishness and hope. Three hundred and sixty-five days.

Cancer is hard. On you, your loved ones, co-workers, family and even brief interactions with strangers. Hard on your plans for revenge.

It has however brought out some wonderful things. Opened my eyes to what a loving and intelligent and thoughtful man my husband is. Pulled my inner fighter out. Gave me a new sense of what is important. Helped me to not sweat the small things.

So many changes in such a small amount of time.

One year ago today.