Things I don’t have to worry about anymore.

June 9, 2011 at 8:10 AM (Age, Awareness, Energy, Family, friends, Happy, Karma, mommy guilt, Real Life, Silver Lining, Zen) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sarah and I sat together on the couch looking at her computer, trying to make sense of things. At the moment, she was in a place of clarity, somewhere between waves of a morphine-induced fog and cancer-induced exhaustion.

“Can I help?” I asked. “What other subjects would you like to write about? You said you had more to write.”

Sentences were shorter now. Not always coming as full thoughts. But this one was clear: “Things I don’t have to worry about anymore.” Her words were dry. I helped her take a sip from her glass of water.

“Okay, I understand.”  We had talked about this before, and I knew what she meant.

Her body was weak. Her focus waxed and waned. She couldn’t hold anything up without help. She couldn’t type. But she was still Sarah, with big, beautiful smile and brilliant blue eyes looking out at all of us, surveying what, to her, must have been such an amazing picture of life. Thinking to herself…things I don’t have to worry about.

It was Monday, May 2nd. We knew what was coming. There was no stopping it. There were no more doctors. Just family and friends for support and love. And of course those helpful, pain relieving drugs. None of us wanted this, but we all knew it was reality. As Sarah and I would often say, “It is what it is.” It was as simple as that. And she had come to accept this.

Tuesday, May 3rd. Sarah died. All worries were gone.

Over the years, Sarah and I discussed, sometimes argued, about the things we worry about. Our therapist often helped us with these things. Bringing us to a better place. Better as a couple. Better as lovers. Better as parents. Better as friends.

We talked about worry and stress. What if we just didn’t have to worry? Is this what happens when you die? Worries just disappear? Maybe. Or, maybe we come to a place of peace, knowing that all those things we worry about in life will simply work themselves out – one way or another.

Is this what she meant when she said “I know I’m getting the easy way out?” Since she wouldn’t have to be concerned anymore? Worry would no longer exist?

Sarah may have been a cynic (and who wouldn’t be after five years of ups and downs from cancer, surgeries and chemo?), but I believe she became an optimist toward the end – seeing there really is no reason to worry. That our energy is put to better use in other ways.

So, what does Sarah NOT have to worry about?

1. Cancer and all its crap.

Say it with me: CRAP! CRAP! CRAP!

No more cancer. No more surgery. No more port. No more drugs. No more chemo. No more side effects. No more scans. No more waiting for results. No more wondering about the next treatment or trial – or if there will be a next treatment. No more wigs. No more hair falling out. No more hair growing back in. No more trips to the hospital during the day, nor in the middle of the night. No more oxygen tanks. No more possibility of further organ failures. No more catheters of any kind. No more injections. No more feeling like crap.

For the rest of us, cancer IS still here. Some of our friends are battling now. Some will win. Some may not. But, let’s keep hope alive. Sarah had hope. We can ALL have hope. Let’s not worry. Instead, look for cures. Look for ways to stay healthy. The Feathers will continue to send love and healing thoughts to all friends of The Carcinista who are waging their own war. Please stay well and know that love and caring is all around you.

2. Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer

Clearly NOT something Sarah worried about for herself. She caught it, but late. Really late. And this gave her more and more reason to want others to know the signs. Ovarian cancer is much more treatable in early stages. So, to help Sarah not worry, please spread the word.

Here are the symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

Learn more at one of the following:  http://www.tealtoes.org/symptoms or http://www.ovationsforthecure.org/aware/aware.php

3.  Getting a tan

From an early age, Sarah loved the sun. She loved the beach. Loved the pool. Loved being in her bikini. She called this her “happy place.” And she was the sun goddess – flipping regularly and adjusting straps so not have an uneven tan. When young – before the sunscreen craze – she always had the perfect tan during the summer. More recently, she tanned just enough – but careful about burns. And of course, making sure to get a good dose of Vitamin D.

4.  Her daily Diet Coke

Sarah’s favorite drink. Loved it cold. Some said she shouldn’t drink it for a variety of reasons. Her response, “Damn it! If I’m going to cut out everything else “bad” for me, I have to have at least one vice. And so she did.

5.  Global Warming

One of Sarah’s many sarcastic comments a few months ago while discussing possible directions for this post: “Since I’m probably going to Hell anyway, global warming doesn’t sound so bad.” Sarah cared a great deal about the environment and global warming. She worried about the future and what will be left for our kids. At least she doesn’t have to worry about it.

6.  Wrinkles

Have you seen what the celebrities are doing to themselves these days? Botox and all sorts of other weird things. Sarah was not keen of the idea of wrinkles, but I think she would have taking them, and worn them with pride.

7.  Finding the perfect outfit

Being the fashionista she was, Sarah always cared about how she looked. She even dressed up for Chemo. And why not? It made her feel good. I have to wonder what the fashion is in Heaven these days. If togas are in vogue, I’m sure she’ll be sorely disappointed (she already did that in college).

8.  Being cold
Sarah was ALWAYS cold. Well, except in the middle of the summer, or on the beach in the Caribbean. But, there was a silver lining. She used to say, in stark contract to her chili side, I was more like a furnace. And this called for lots of snuggling. We kind of balanced each other out – keeping just the right warm.

9.  Nap time

The afternoon nap was a cherished time. When we were younger, both working full time, Sarah enjoyed them on weekends. When she began working at home, afternoon naps were an enjoyable part of her day. After having kids, almost essential.

Then, cancer came. Naps were no longer just a “nice” part of the day, they were a necessity. And Sarah did worry about not getting enough. If the kids were anxious and made too much noise, or the dog was being a pain – sleep didn’t happen. If I called from the car on my way home and got a short answer, I knew her sleep had been restless.

But now, I’m sure she’s resting when she wants to, on her favorite beach. It’s warm. There’s a nice breeze. She’s got a great tan. Eyes closed. Sweet dreams dancing in her head.

10.  A replacement

Sarah often talked about my “next wife” and how I should find someone just right. She even wanted to help. But, I’m glad this is something she won’t be worrying about. I’m not. If it’s meant to be, I’m sure it’ll happen. If not, that’s fine too. When I met Sarah, I knew she was “the one” just three days after meeting her. And while our relationship was not always perfect (who’s is?), I’d take our 18 years together and enjoy them again in a heartbeat.

PS.  If and when I do find someone, there is no possibility of a replacement. Sarah will always be one of a kind.

11.  Her three boys

She worried, and she didn’t. She knew we were well prepared and have a great support system. I remember the first time I heard her say something about a support system. It was before our oldest son was born. She wanted to stay on the East Coast because it was close to her family, her support system. This was a foreign term to me at the time, but have grown to love it and all that it means. Our friends and family are truly amazing. I know Sarah is not worried at all.

12.  Dust bunnies

There are many parts of life that are just that, life. Dust bunnies and all. So, stop worrying. Make sure you live each day. Take some time to enjoy the little things – and the big things, too.

We miss you Sarah. Thank you for helping us see and know what is important in life.

Love,

– Mr. Wonderful

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Cancer Fashion Forecast, Spring 2010

April 9, 2010 at 5:26 PM (Humor, style) (, , , , , , , )

After spending a few months immersing myself in the fashion trends for Spring 2010, I’ve noticed a bit of a difference between the way healthy people dress and the way cancer patients dress. And since I feel an obligation to my public to keep them well informed in this area, I give you:

 The Carcinista’s Cancer Fashion Forecast, Spring/Summer 2010.

Cargo pants: Where the well-dressed trendsetter this spring will run right out for a pair of slim, cropped, drawstring-hem “safari” pants to wear with platforms and a silk tank top, the cancer patient will find the cargo indispensable for chemo days when you’re too tired to carry a handbag. The drawstring waist accommodates fluctuating sizes due to carbo loading, and the pockets will hold seven different hospital IDs, your insurance card, your cell phone, sugarless gum, and Prilocaine cream for your port. Forget the silk top: drips from the IV could stain. Instead, layer up with the most recent walk-for-a-cure tee and a hoodie to keep the chill of the waiting room off the back of your naked neck.

Nautical style: Striped sailor pants might look great with a cute scoop-neck tee and wedges on your way to a cocktail party, but since standing up for two hours and making conversation is probably out of your reach, count on the wide-leg silhouette to cover persistent lymphedema and the fact that you’re wearing slippers to the pharmacy. [Side benefit: what’s more nautical than a pirate? Sport your ‘do-rag with confidence.]

Ruffles: Feminine details abound on the runways for S/S’10 – use them to your advantage! A cute top with an a-line shape will not only disguise the muffin top that has developed since you can’t catch your breath long enough to work out, but the soft detail around the neckline will remind the world that you’re still a girl, despite your lack of eyebrows, lashes, and hair. Not to mention disguising the scar left from your port insertion procedure six months ago that won’t heal due to your low blood counts.

Maxi-dresses: Still a hot silhouette from last summer, the maxi has it all for cancer chicks. Empire waistline holds up breast prostheses; a-line skirt to the floor hides everything else. Bare shoulders let your scorching skin breathe during hot flashes. Where else will you find a legitimate garment that’s more like a nightgown?

Wedges: A heel that even a weakened babe can adore, they’re easier to walk in than a pump but still give you an extra three inches of height (spread out those pounds!). Closed toes and heels on espadrilles camouflage your parched skin and the fact that it’s been over six months since your last pedicure. They’re not only the perfect excuse not to have to take the dog out (“Can’t walk on the lawn in these shoes. Sorry!”), they also double as weight-training on those days you really need to maximize every move.

Boyfriend jeans: See cargo pants. When your waistline is four different sizes in three months, don’t even try to pick a size. Rock the baggy-pants trend like you’re doing it on purpose.

Soft pastels: Delicate colors won’t overwhelm pale skin; sweet shell-pink flatters ghostly complexions of every color, and minimizes the effect of dark under-eye circles. Careful, though – too close to lavender and you risk calling attention to the IV-stick-attempt bruises on your forearms.

See, girls? You can still follow the trends, even from the comfort of your own barcalounger. And while you’re sitting still, it’ll be so much easier for your support team to admire how stylish you look. I think retail therapy should be a required co-therapy with the standard chemo stuff, don’t you?

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Non-Cancer-Patients Have Feelings, Too

February 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM (Family, friends, Recovery, WTF) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Before I was The Carcinista, I was known as the Fashion Nazi. Working hard at building a style consulting business, I was the go-to gal for advice of all sorts (“I have this wedding to go to…” or “Gee, how about we go to the mall this weekend? I’m looking for boots…”) and quite popular when friends or acquaintances wondered if this outfit made them look fat/out of date/mutton-dressed-as-lamb. Clients streamlined their wardrobes and lost fifteen visual pounds/years. Fashion review columns flowed from my fingertips. Withering red-carpet reviews became my calling card.

The downside, apart from wasting countless hours lost in W and on style.com, was that in social situations, good friends and new acquaintances alike were constantly apologizing for what they were wearing. “Gee, Kate, if you’d told me Sarah was coming to the party, I would have dressed up!” I tried to explain that unless they were my clients, their appearance was their own business, and it didn’t matter to me what they wore, but I guess Clinton and Stacy’s reputations preceded me. No matter how much I reassured them, there were always sheepish mea culpas for all-black outfits, comfortable shoes, or un-made-up faces.

Now that my public persona has shifted a bit, although I’m still the sassy style arbitrix I always was (with occasional forays into the yoga-pants-and-oversized-sweater look on schlumpy days), I’m still getting bowing and scraping from people. Only this time, they’re apologizing because I have cancer. Everyone has gripes. Everyone has a lousy day, a sore muscle, a bad cold. But no one feels like they can tell me about it, because my cancer trumps any other life gripe.

Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your…what, grasp of reality? But it’s all relative. My reality is mine, and your reality is yours, and if you’re sore from shoveling snow, it’s okay to complain about it. I promise I’m not thinking, “Wow, what a selfish bitch she is, grousing about sitting in traffic; I have CANCER!” I actually got back in contact with a dear friend after a too-long hiatus, and she told me she hadn’t called in over a year because she’d been having confusing medical problems but they didn’t hold a candle to mine, and she hadn’t wanted to complain. Are you kidding me?

Look, kids, you love me, scars and all. And I love you, baggy sweatshirts and all. And I want to know what’s going on in your lives because I care about you and how you feel. So complain about the flunky at Starbucks who screwed up your chai. Cancel our playdate because you have a headache. There’s no measuring stick for a crappy day.

Just don’t tell anyone I dress you if you wear that out in public.

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