Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2013

"There's Always Tomorrow": A final thought on #BloodCancerAwarenessMonth

Wrapping up Blood Cancer Awareness Month with a huge thank you to Ashley Rodgers for her expert answers to reader/survivor FAQs about cancer's emotional roller coaster. (To see the whole Q&A series, click the #BloodCancerAwarenessMonth hash tag below.) On a personal note: My daughter Jerusha, five years old in the photo here, went with me to many of my chemo treatments, including one on her sixth birthday. Today she is a fabulous 24-year-old freelance editor , and this summer, she donated bone marrow to a six-year-old child with leukemia through a national anonymous bone marrow registry. I can't begin to express how proud of her I am. (For more information on how you can help someone with a life-threatening blood cancer,  visit Be The Match .) Of all the songs that spoke to me during the journey of my own cancer experience (and the continuing journey of survivorship) is this anthem from Gloria Estefan. The first time I heard it, I was weeping in the ladies room at my oncolo

#BloodCancerAwareness Q&A: "My ex has cancer. Why does our son act like it's my fault?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: My teenage son is great with his dad (my ex-husband) who is going through chemo and radiation, but to me he is belligerent, disrespectful and uncooperative. Why is he acting like my ex's cancer is my fault? Ashley says: I understand how you may feel frustrated and hurt by your son’s actions and attitude towards you right now. It is difficult for everyone to cope with a sick parent, especially when you are still a child. Ideally, your pare

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "Is it crazy to think I deserve to find love before I die?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: My wife and I have been pretty unhappy for most of our 15-year marriage but stayed together because of the kids. Now I have cancer, and I feel like I'm wasting what might be the last years of my life. Is it crazy to think I should try to find love before I die? Ashley says: Your desire to have love in your life is not crazy. It is natural to want passion and connection with another person. You can choose to dissolve your current relations

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "My spouse is AWOL since my cancer diagnosis. WTF?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: My husband has been totally AWOL since my cancer diagnosis, working late, leaving early, eating dinner in front of the TV and barely speaking to me. WTF? Ashley says: It can be very stressful and hurtful to become disconnected with your partner after such a major medical diagnosis. You are not alone in your experience. Many patients go through a similar shift in their relationships and the key to getting through it is communication. A diagnos

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "Anger management? I just want to punch somebody in the face."

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: Every time someone comes up to me and says, "How ARE you?" or tells me what an inspiration I am, I just want to punch them in the face. It's not their fault, but it pisses me off. What am I supposed to do with all this anger? Ashley says: Feeling anger towards friends and family is normal. From people who are currently undergoing treatment to people who have been in remission for years, they all go through a rollercoaster of emo

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "Is chemo brain a thing? And where the hell are my car keys?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: Ever since chemo, I've been struggling with my memory and concentration. It's hard to read a book. I get lost on my way to the grocery store. Sometimes I can't even recite my own phone number! I've heard about "chemo brain" and post-traumatic issues, but my friends tell me it's just stress. What can I do to get my brain back? Ashley says: The term “chemo brain” refers to mild cognitive impairment; this includes th

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "Do I really have to tell my date I've had cancer?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: I'm 25 years old and just finished 18 months of chemo and radiation. My hair is super short, but I'm not bald. My energy is starting to come back, and I'm trying to get out into the dating world again. It feels dishonest to not mention this huge thing in my life, but any mention the cancer thing either hijacks the whole conversation or totally turns the person off. What's the best way to bring it up without making people uncomf

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "Chemo's over! Why do I freak out about follow up scans?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: I've been in remission for several years, and I go once-a-year for scans and follow-up with the oncologist. I used to feel a lot of panic and dread as the six-month check ups approached. Now I feel terrified about going so long between scans. What's wrong with me? Ashley says: I understand you may be concerned and confused about why going so long between check-ups can feel so scary. Remission is supposed to be this glorious time of re

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Thank you to fabulous Alyssa and all my Relay for Life friends!

Had to post a huge hug and shout out to Alyssa Rood for her amazing gift of energy and love as a Relay for Life participant. (And to her mom Denine for sending me this photo). Since its humble beginnings in 1985, Relay for Life has been raising funds for the American Cancer Society. Millions of dollars have been generated for research, support, awareness and education, and fabulous people like Alyssa have made it happen. If you've been to a Relay for Life event, you know that the track is lined with luminaria, some in tribute, some in memoriam, every one a reminder that cancer only comes in the context of a human being. Those lights through the night, as participants keep walking, are a powerful symbol of the scientists and caregivers who keep striving for answers, striding toward a cure. Thank you! As a survivor who has been lucky enough to see my children grow up, I can't begin to express my gratitude. Visit the Relay for Life website to learn how you can get involved.

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "My family makes fun of my 'woo woo' alternative treatments. URG!"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: After a year of remission, my cancer is back. I want to investigate alternative and naturopathic treatments instead of more chemo and radiation. My family tells me I'm an idiot. They're constantly on my case to abandon this "stupid, suicidal" belief system. I really need their support right now. How do I get them on my side? Ashley says: The news of your cancer returning can be scary, not only for you, but for your family as

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "I'm in remission! Why am I so depressed?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: Everyone was amazed by my positive attitude during chemo. I worked hard to stay upbeat, and I thought everything would be fine once my remission was confirmed. Instead I feel depressed and more alone than I've ever felt in my life. Why can't I just get back to normal? Ashley says: I understand that you are feeling alone now and might be confused by that since remission is usually imagined with feelings of happiness and relief. But cons

#BloodCancerAwarnessMonth Q&A: "What's with all this sex since my hubby's diagnosis?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: Since my husband's cancer diagnosis we've been having sex at least once and sometimes two or three times a day. Is there something horribly wrong with us? Ashley says:  First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with the two of you. It is natural for your sex life and patterns of intimacy to change, especially during a major life event like being diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes couples find that their sexual interactions become less f

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: Where did all my friends go?

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about  Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: Since my cancer diagnosis, a lot of my friends and even some of my family members seem to have disappeared. If I happen to bump into someone I know, they're obviously uncomfortable. WTF? Ashley says: Many people have experienced loved ones pull away during or after treatment. This is typically because they care about you and do not know how to handle the news regarding your diagnosis. Some people avoid situations of conflict or distress b

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "How and when do I share my cancer diagnosis with my family?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: At what point am I obligated to share info about my cancer diagnosis with my extended family?  Ashley says: When it comes to sharing your diagnosis with extended family and others in your social circle, the timing is up to you. Depending on the dynamic you have with each family member or friend, they may notice something is weighing on your mind and they may ask you for the information. Others might not notice and you might be feeling the urge

#BloodCancerAwarenessMonth Q&A: "Is my child old enough to know Mommy has cancer?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about Bald in the Land of Big Hair , a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize , but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers . So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey.  Q: At what age is a child old enough to be told that a parent has cancer? Ashley says: Cancer can be a scary word, even for adults, but communication in relationships is necessary at any age. Children generally know when something is going on, even when they do not know specifically. It is better to communicate what is happening, otherwise children typically will blame themselves for the tension. The key is to talk with your child in a way that i

Wonder Wendy: "You must be radiantly, buoyantly alive!" (Thanks, chemo!) #BloodCancerAwarenessMonth

I'm so in agreement with Vivid Wendy Barrie! Alive is SO much better than non-alive! That's why I'm grateful to all those who stepped up to participate in clinical trials, donate blood and marrow, or dedicate their lives to caregiving in an effort to give life to all of us with blood cancer. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month! Visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to learn more about the amazing research and progress toward a cure. (Click to enlarge image.)