Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

Suvivorship

While the Mr. and I were on vacation at the Oregon coast, we did a little shopping at the outlet mall in Seaside.  We had a nice bottle of wine from my boss, which we had been saving for our anniversary trip, and I wanted to find some stemless wine-glasses.  We were on our way to the kitchen shop, and happened to look in the windows at the Dress Barn on our way.  I’ve never been in a Dress Barn.  I have no idea why that is, they have one in practically every outlet mall I’ve ever been to.  Never saw anything to draw me in, I guess.  But something we saw in the window at Seaside caught our collective eye, and we decided to check it out.

I’m rather conservative when it comes to choosing clothes for myself, so I tend to ask the Mr. for his input along the way, and sometimes I just go with what he picks, unless I really REALLY don’t like it.

On this trip, I found two skirts that I was comfortable with (muted colors and patterns), and the Mr. picked one with not outrageous colors, but very vivid colors on a white background.  Also, it was a LOT of fabric.  A lot.  As in full circle skirt, and from my waist to well past my toes.  I could have worn the waistband around my chest, and still been well covered.  Now I like a longer hem on a skirt, as it covers my chubby knees and my pale shins, and I can wear them without stockings or hose.  But this was a bit much.  Very long, and as I said, a lot of volume.  I was inclined to veto the skirt, as I find I look better in fitted garments rather than in flowy.  But the Mr. loved it.  “That’s not a skirt for work.  That’s a party skirt,” he declared.  With that, I could suddenly envision myself floating through a summer evening at a backyard barbeque, a festive and fresh hostess.  And so I agreed it was on the list of items to take home.

About two weeks later, it’s Father’s Day.  As usual, I’m frantically finishing up my potluck items (tomato-basil-mozzarella salad dressed with a little balsamic, and a rather fabulous coconut cake), having completely given up on any idea of fixing my hair or my daughter’s.  Barely giving myself time to get cleaned up, much less plan for trying on and changing outfits, I grab the too long skirt (Father’s Day is a backyard barbeque after all), and pull it on, old man style, right up under my chest, so I won’t trip on the hem.  It’s still to my ankles.  Oh, well, no time to try on anything else, so I go with it.  Grab my favorite go-to black Mossimo tshirt with the keyhole back, and call it good. I wear my shirt untucked, so no one can see how high I’ve pulled the waistband.  Only my husband and daughter know.

Once we have arrived to my sister-in-law’s, and safely delivered our contributions to their respective tables (my cake looks glorious on its white pedestal in the middle of the dessert table, like the belle of the ball) without my tripping over the hem of my skirt (a true miracle), I don’t think any more about what I’m wearing or how (i.e., Grandpa style) for the rest of the afternoon.  Which I should have thought was significant, but didn’t.  My husband did, however, which I should have also thought significant.  I guess I complain a lot more than I realized, and he also noticed more than I expected.

If you have been following this journey for a while, you are well aware by now that I have had a lot of surgeries (well, maybe not a LOT), and hence a lot of scars.  I had the mastectomy scar where they took my right breast.  Now I have new scars at the mastectomy site where they built a new boob, and a large scar from hip to hip where they took belly tissue to build the new boob.   I also have scar tissue under the “natural” breast where another surgeon reduced the breast to better match the “fake” breast.  All of these scars tend to leave me rather uncomfortable in all of my clothes after a while.  My bras (going braless isn’t really comfortable, either, by the way); the waistband on every pair of pants or shorts I own; my underwear; and even the waistband on some of my skirts.  Waistbands usually sit right on my belly scar.  Right ON it.  Not a problem when I first put my clothes on, but after a few hours I start thinking about how much I want to get home so I can take off whatever I’m wearing, as most things irritate my scars, even though some of them are a year or more old.

Like I said, I guess Ken must have noticed my lack of complaining, as he commented that I should write a post about survivorship and a too long skirt, and how it would be good to define the benefits of owning a skirt that was too long.  At first I was like “Huh?” Then he pointed out that a too long skirt, one that has to be pulled up so high, as in above an easily irritated scar, is a good thing to have, and that this would be good information to share out to the blog, in case other women are going through a similar experience.

So here we are.

I have another, shorter skirt (knee length or a little longer) which is sort of stretched out at the waist (I used to weigh quite a bit more, when I was doing active chemo and for a while after).  It’s purple and white, it has silvery spangles all around the hem, and it’s cotton. I have been wearing it a lot in the evenings, since it’s been so hot here. It feels cool, and it doesn’t rest right at my scar. It’s usually slipping down to my hips, which can be a problem when I stand up.  If I’m not paying attention, my rear-end will be hanging out the back of the skirt, and truly, no one wants to see that.

I hadn’t thought about it until just now, but I have been pulling that one up a little higher, above my belly, as well.  I don’t wear that one out in public (much), as in addition to the stretched out waistband, it also has a big blue blotch on it where I spilled ink all over myself last summer, and some of the spangles are coming loose.  But it’s my favorite thing to wear around the house to feed the rabbits, or do laundry, or watch television at night with my husband, so I don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon, as funky and scruffy as it is getting to look.

Because at the moment, I’m pretty funky and scruffy, too.

Survivorship and the Beach

Sunday 6/14/15

It was our wedding anniversary trip, and Ken and I were wrapping up our weekend at Cannon Beach.  We had been planning this trip for a year, and talking about it for about 6 weeks, starting conversations with “When we go on our trip, we should…”. And I for one have been thinking about it pretty obsessively for about the last 10 days or so

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been here – maybe since 7th grade.  I LOVE the beach, and I think everyone I know gets dreamy eyed when you mention Cannon Beach, Oregon, in particular.  I know I do.

We went for our walk on the beach the last night at low tide. I am disappointed to report that it doesn’t smell the same as I remember from my youth.  I suppose it’s because of my sinus issues.  Bleah.  Wisdom is lovely, but getting older sort of bites in a lot of ways.  My sense of smell is off, so of course is my sense of taste, so food is not the experience it once was, with the occasional notable exception, such as our dinner the first night, simple fish and chips at the Driftwood, but oh, my!  I don’t know what magic their chef works, but that fish positively melts on your tongue.  But I digress…

Not surprisingly, after a full day I was tired and quite ready to leave LONG before Ken was finished taking pictures.  Let’s get one thing straight right now – that man is never actually “finished” with taking pictures.  But that’s part of who he is, and I love him, so what can I do.

The next morning, our last morning at the beach on this trip, we got up EARLY to walk down to the beach again for the lower low tide, so we could get closer to Haystack Rock, and I could find more shells washed up on the beach to collect for our daughter.  When we went to bed the night before, I think I secretly hoped that Ken would change his mind about getting up at O’Dark-thirty.  I mean, he has enough photos, right?  (See paragraph above. Ha!) And I can get shells for the kid in a souvenir shop that will be perfect, intact, and CLEAN.

The alarm didn’t go off as planned, but as there are sky-lights in the ceiling of our little cabin, we’ve been waking up by 4:30 or 5:00am every day anyway.  So at 5:26, our eyes popped open, legs stuffed into pants, feet into shoes, and we were off without even brushing our teeth.

Totally. Worth it.

Loads of shells for the kiddo (not all survived the journey), loads MORE photos, another 2 miles or more walking on the beach, and I had my FitBit light show soon after breakfast (10,000 steps, and before 10:00am).

But the real news, the really BIG deal for me.  Walking on the beach, with the wind and the surf and the sand, I. Felt. Amazing. I was walking along, at a pretty fast pace, feeling quite a lot like my old self that morning.  So good I could almost run in my joy.  Better than I have since I began this friggin’ “Cancer Journey.”  One year ago, I couldn’t walk 8 blocks without needing a break, without feeling literally as old as dirt, feeling so tired I wanted to cry.  And here I was, on the beach, feeling young and LOVING life.

We have officially hit a milestone.