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    Here’s some bad poetry to celebrate the pause after the madness:

    ‘Tis the day after Christmas, and now I can rest.
    The hoopla is over, and I’ve done my best.

    ‘Twas joyful and happy, my family’s content
    Now that it’s over, myself, I am spent!

    The world, it went on while the holidays roared
    my children concerned with the stuff they have scored.

    The season has hijacked commitments and causes.
    I now am glad for the end of these pauses.

    My blogs are neglected, my house is a mess
    farewell has been said to the family and guests.

    My friends fighting cancer are breaking my heart.
    2012 a new year of advocacy will start.

    Soon another year comes, a new chance to give
    every sweet day a new chance to live.

    Soon five years will have passed since they named my disease,
    now I move forward with e’er greater ease.

    A new year is coming, may this be the best!
    For you and for yours, may we all get some rest!

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    Again, roaming, following blogs that lead to blogs. What a treasure trove I found!

    I found this one by following my friend Anna, who was herself the inspiration for this award!

    Hey, Disruptive Cancer Bloggers!

    The comments from those bloggers guilty as charged, and their justifications for the honor was the best belly laugh I’ve had in weeks. Some highlights:

    Anna’s super snark on Pink Town

    and Kathi’s beautiful self portrait

    Maybe if I stick around and play with the big kids long enough I can learn such snark skill!

     

    And for Linda, and for Pat, and others who have asked. It’s so hard to know where to start with Complementary Therapies! My first thought when I was diagnosed was that I would use all the big guns my oncologist recommended, and all the big guns from the Complementary Therapies arsenal. At the time I was diagnosed, I had been a full time professional Massage Therapist for nearly 20 years. I knew all about complementary therapies, but I had been neglecting myself, badly. I wasn’t just a wounded healer. I had been limping for a long time. I had just emerged from an awful divorce, huge work stress (the hospital where I worked was downsizing, and the pressure was on!), and my children were suffering. They were 7 and 9. I knew something had to give, but I didn’t really know how to get out of the quicksand I was in.

    When I got the diagnosis, I knew I had to fight and fight hard. I decided that I had an opportunity to heal my whole life, and that embracing that task would give me the best chance to survive. I sought healing of body, mind and spirit, and most importantly to mend the rifts between them. The word “congruence” was my operative word, and still is. So, my take on complementary therapies is really an approach rather than just a list of modalities. having said that, I pretty much used them all!

    My practices for myself:
    1. Say “yes” when anyone offered help. Accept with gratitude. Believe that I deserved the help and that giving it was a blessing to the ones who offered.
    2. Put myself first, for the first time ever in my life, no matter who it upset. I was fighting for my life, and I knew it. A total stranger told me to do this, and I believed her.
    3. Actively and deliberately sought my own happiness. It took awhile to figure out what that looked like.
    4. Made a decision to stop beating myself up, period. Nothing was gained by my perfectionism, and I was beating myself down. Now I question my tendency to self blame, and if I find something that needs to change, I take note and move on.

    I had to rely on #1 a lot, because I was not in a financial position to pay for everything I received. Still, I accepted it, and it all helped, more than the sum of it’s parts. Here’s my list:

    1. Massage Therapy. I received a massage once a week while I was receiving chemotherapy. My colleagues at the hospital did this for me voluntarily, on their own time. I will always be deeply grateful for this.

    2. Healing Touch. I received this through a Stanford University study called Healing Partners. I received one session per week for six months.

    3. Acupuncture. My mom offered to pay for this because she knew it would help. I was a struggling single mom when I went on this journey so I did not have the funds to do this. I received acupuncture once every two weeks.

    4. Guided Imagery. I believe this had a huge impact on my treatment. I used it to keep my blood cell counts up, to maximize the effectiveness of my treatments, and for healing after the treatments were over. I’ve already written a short article about that on the pages for Complementary Therapies. Excellent Guided Imagery CD’s and MP3 downloads are available from Health Journeys.

    5. Support: I went to an Art and Imagery support group. This was a combination of Guided Imagery and using art therapeutically. It was very helpful. That program closed at the hospital and I really miss it. I also found my Caringbridge site to be a huge source of support.

    6. Counseling. Fortunately for me, this was available through California Cancer Care where I received my treatments.

    7. Laughter! I didn’t do “laughter therapy” (whatever that is…I haven’t tried Laughter Yoga but I have a friend who’s into it and loves it) but at the time I was diagnosed I had been attending a comedy improv class every week, and I made sure to continue. I timed my chemotherapy so I would be up for my class, and I didn’t miss a single one! Even after my surgery, I couldn’t play, but I could watch. I’m convinced that laughing my head off every week was very good for me.

    8. Exercise is very important! I took advantage of the “Living Strong, Living Well” program at my local YMCA and did weights, cardiovascular exercise, and whatever else seemed like fun. I also did yoga at home, and some chi gong. I had a couple of videos and they worked well for me. I have a chi gong video that offers a 10 minute sequence for cleansing, called simply “chi gong for cleansing”. I am convinced that my complete recovery from surgery with my range of motion intact is because I did yoga.

    9. Nutrition: My doctor told me, “Eat what looks good to you”. I wanted to be a martinet about what I ate, but I had decided to accept all help so I indulged in comfort food when it was offered. What I did do is create a smoothie that covered all the bases, and I had that every day during chemotherapy. Now I’m a bit more careful, but not super strict. I find the information on “Food for Breast Cancer” useful and I read the research they publish.

    10. Cultivate hope, actively. I read everything I could get my hands on about recovering. The book “Remarkable Recovery” was my constant companion. I read the stories over and over, especially if I was feeling worn out by it all. The gist of what I got from it was that beating the odds was about doing it how you do it best, and it’s different for all of us.

    11. Self expression and creativity. Everybody has her own way to do this. I found blogging, and loved it. I also got tons of support online, which was a huge help. I picked up a paint brush for the first time in 20 years or so. As I went through radiation, I was also rehearsing for a musical, again for the first time in 20 years. For you it may not be this sort of stuff, it may be something else, but whatever it is, it makes your spirit hum! If you’ve forgotten what that is, it’s time to discover it again!

    12. Prayer. Whenever anyone offered to pray for me, I said yes, by all means please do! Acknowledging that my life was worth praying for, and allowing total strangers to pray for me (I was on a ton of prayer lists) was an important act of self love. There is research that supports the effectiveness of prayer, and I believe deeply that true self love sets all kinds of positive cellular happenings in motion.

    13. Substitute “Feel Everything” for “stay positive”. I heard that stay positive stuff all the time from well meaning people. Being a Pollyanna does not help. Neither does denial. What does help is honoring what you feel, give it expression, and keep things moving. I didn’t elevate my lousy mood by pretending I didn’t have it. I blogged, “feel like crap, going to bed” and then later absorbed the messages of hope from my friends on my guestbook. I cried my way through a few infusions, and then felt better. After I cried I could make art or settle into my warm bed with some hot chocolate. Everything is allowed!

    There’s my first stab at it ladies, for my dear IBC sisters and anyone else this may help. If you have any questions about what’s here so far, or want me to elaborate some more, please send me an email at elizabethdanu@rocketmail.com. What you tell me you want is what will be in Part Two. In the meantime, I am sleuthing out links and resources.

    I hope this helps!

    Love,
    Elizabeth

    Hey, I won!

    The thing I sent to Pink Link means I’ll be getting a copy of “Laughter is the Breast Medicine” soon in the mail. I can’t wait to read it, and review it here!

    I think laughter is good medicine for anything. It’s a great strategy for dealing with teenagers, coping with any kind of stress, supporting your immune system, and beating the blues in general.

    I get my daily dose with the kids on every day but Wednesdays. I know I’m stressed if they don’t make me laugh at least a few times in 45 minutes! I have also noticed that if I can find something funny about something that’s really bugging me, it has less power.

    Here’s something therapeutic if your beloved cat is driving you crazy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKvNqe8cKU4oor

    For my way of coping with being a uniboober, check out my other blog at Everyday Health.

    I had to laugh when I saw this!  I found this on the website, Planet Cancer.  A laugh is good medicine!

    This is an excellent website, focusing on the needs of younger cancer patients in their 20′s and 30′s.  However, this ol’ 49 year old lady can still relate!

    I actually remember my baldheaded days with fondness.  I finished chemotherapy in June of 2007, so the remainder of the summer was spent deliciously bald.  The breeze on my head was very soothing.  I didn’t bother to cover my head at home, and sleeping that way was soooooooo comfortable!  If it hadn’t been for the circumstances surrounding my bald experience, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I had an especially good time with it during my comedy improv class.  There was always an opportune time to whip off the scarf, hat, or wig!

    I must admit though, it got old when my daughter would get mad at me and call me “Baldy”.  I was also annoyed that the hair on my legs was the last to go and the first to come back.  Not fair!

    Top Ten Reasons Being Bald Rocks

    Posted by courtney • December 14, 2009 • Printer-friendly

    10. Topless tanning.

    9.  No hair in your soup. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

    8.  No haircuts, no shampoo, no styling – can you say low-maintenance?

    7.  No lice. Ewww.

    6.  When on the run from the police, you can hide out in the melon section of the grocery store.

    5. Magic Marker skull tattoos.

    4.  On really hot nights, a cool satin pillowcase is better than sex. Like you’re getting any.

    3.  Low maintenance = more time on your hands = higher blood counts (Yeah, you know what I mean!)

    2.  You can join the Bald Hall of Fame.

    1.  Aerodynamics, baby!

    *     *     *     *

    For anyone reading this post who is currently bald, here’s a riddle I made up when I was bald.  I know, my funny bone is peculiar….

    Q:  What is a bad hair day on chemo?

    A:  When you can’t get your eyebrows to match!

    Bald is beautiful!

    Tagged with:
     

    Pink Link is a comprehensive online resource for people who have faced or are facing breast cancer.  You can find the link on the right of the page.  I highly recommend this site!

    This month there is a contest to win a book about humor, “Laughter is the Breast Medicine”.  Of course I just had to get into that act!  Laughing got me through, no doubt about it. To have a chance to win the free book, I had to answer the question, how has humor helped me heal?  Just thinking about that made me laugh all over again.  So I sent my entry, which you can read here!
    Here is my answer to the question,  “How has laughter helped you heal?”

    I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC Inflammatory Breast Cancer in February of 2007.  At the time, I was taking a comedy improvisation class on Tuesday evenings with my significant other. It all happened very quickly.  From needle biopsy to chemotherapy was ten days.  When I set my chemotherapy schedule, I kept my class schedule in mind.  I had chemo every other Wednesday (dose-dense chemotherapy) so that by Tuesday evening I would feel well enough to go to class.  I didn’t miss a single one! The week after my mastectomy, I still showed up and watched. I howled with laughter every week, all the way through chemo, surgery, and most of my radiation treatments.  I finally quit when I found my way to the stage and worked out my cancer angst as the White Witch of Narnia.

    Sometimes Steve would get protective of me when the physical comedy got wild, but the benefits of laughing far outweighed the risks of being spun around on the floor or pretending I was a wild animal.  We even got mileage out my baldheadedness.  Steve was bald too.  During a show we did in the community, we staged an argument in which we both pulled off each other’s wigs! After that one, Steve and our fellow improviser Mark went off on “making the chemo girl laugh” and it just got more and more outrageous.  I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard!  Tears were rolling down my face and they asked, “are you all right?”  Oh yes, yes, yes!  and on they went.  As I recall I felt pretty great the day after that one.

    Humor during cancer treatment wasn’t all about just laughing a lot.  It helped me so much to see the absurdity in the whole situation.  People around me were sometimes baffled by what I found funny.  How many tweens do you know who call their mom “Baldy” when they’re mad?

    What’s a bad hair day on chemo?  When you can’t get your eyebrows to match!

    Steve used to call me every afternoon during his commute and make me laugh.  It always made me feel better.

    Steve and I did not continue our relationship, but I bravely ventured out into the dating world again.  Tom and I are a success story.  If a woman with one boob, two kids and no money can find love, anybody can!  I knew he was the one when I knocked on the bathroom door one morning and asked him if my prosthesis was in there.  Now there’s a dilemma.  Can’t go out without it!  His response was to hand it to me and ask me blandly,

    “Honey, will you please keep track of your boob?”

    I could go on, but that probably is a long enough answer to your question!  My plan is to read and review this book, and post the review on my blog.  I will do that whether I win this freebie or not, because laughter is just SO good for you.

    I would know!

     
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