Hi friends! Again, it’s been way too long (which, considering this is a cancer blog, that’s a GOOD THING). I always know when it’s time to write a post, however, when I pause and think, ‘Did that really just happen?’. This is one of those times.
A few days ago I received a text from my friend and fellow breast cancer survivor, Amy Smith. She said that Vinnie the tattoo artist (remember him?) was going to be in town the first week in December to take care of the Dallas patients. Vinnie is based in Maryland, and at one point Stephanie and I had discussed taking a girls trip (or in this case, I guess it would be a trip for the girls) to get our tattoos. But now that Vinnie is coming to town, our trip will be much shorter and way less expensive.
To be honest, I haven’t really given much thought to the whole tattoo process after finishing up treatment. I guess being normal was just too much fun.
But can we please talk about what’s NOT normal? Seeing this in your inbox:
I don’t know what’s more disturbing. The fact that ‘little vinnies’ is in all lowercase or that this title may actually have a double meaning (pardon even that pun – yikes, I can’t stop). Right when I saw this, I had a flashback to 2017 and all things cancer. I haven’t thought about tattoos since I happened to catch an episode of Bachelor in Paradise a month or so ago (please don’t judge). Is everyone 30 and under now required to have a tattoo and I’m the last to know?
Anyway, after I recovered from the email, I contacted Tasha, who was listed as the scheduling contact. She then sent me another email which asked me to fill out all kinds of information and reply back. Mind you, there was no attachment. This was simply just a few questions in the body of the email. Name, Phone Number, Date of Mastectomy, etc. You get the gist. I was rolling along just fine until I got to the very last question, or in this case the very last request. Please read #8 for yourselves.
DYING. I’m pretty sure I spit out whatever I was sipping on at the time.
We, as parents, have spent the majority of our sons’ teenage years lecturing them on the dangers of sending inappropriate pictures via any type of technology. I’m pretty sure if you are a parent of a teenager you have uttered the words, ‘NEVER send a naked picture of yourself to ANYONE, EVER.’ Holla?! We threaten the boys that if they do that, they will go to jail, never hold a steady job, never be able to run for office, etc. And now THEIR MOM is the one sending inappropriate pictures in a casual email to a stranger. NEVER SAY NEVER. All of my internal organs were stressed, and everything in me said this is wrong. Not to mention the demands to use natural lighting. I’m a photographer, and do you know where the very best natural lighting is? BY A WINDOW. 🤦🏼♀️
I’ll spare you the details, but I managed to follow directions and tried to remain professional about the whole exchange. Then I forwarded the ORIGINAL email (without photos) to Stephanie, so she could sign up too. Later that day, she called and we laughed about the ridiculous nature of that task. She happened to mention the email address where she sent the pics and I FROZE. I asked what she was talking about, as I had just replied to the little vinnies email with my ‘attachments’. NO MA’AM. There was a special private place in which to send the photos and I just didn’t read the email all the way to the end. I AM SO SORRY, TASHA. #shecan’tunseethat
So in keeping with my tradition of major surgeries and procedures falling on or around special occasions, I’m getting tattooed December 4th. Happy Anniversary mom & dad.
As if sending pics of myself wasn’t humiliating enough, I then had to wake up early this morning for a colonoscopy. (I hesitate telling you all that because I really don’t like to brag about my life.) This procedure was recommended by Dr. O’Shaughnessy at my 8 month appointment simply as a precaution. When she scheduled this appointment, it felt so far away. Then yesterday, when I realized I couldn’t eat all day and had to drink the nastiest drink known to man, September suddenly seemed to get here way too fast.
I remember when Katie Couric first started talking about colonoscopies many moons ago when she lost her husband to colon cancer.
What I don’t remember is her talking about the nasty drink.
Instead, you see joyful images like this of her encouraging folks to get a screening:
But what you don’t see is a pic of Jimmy Kimmel chugging his Moviprep the night before.
There’s a reason for that.
I have to give my husband props, however, because as I sat there last night complaining over and over and over again about THAT DRINK and repeating, ‘I’m never going to be able to finish this!!!!’, he kept encouraging me with every hour that passed. Then, kind of under his breath, mentioned that he just did this and it was fine. WHAT? I literally DID NOT REMEMBER him doing this. Why? Because he fasted while putting in a full day’s work, drank that concoction when he got home within like 2 hours, stayed up all night, never complained, drove himself to his appointment, etc. I quickly realized how I might be the most dramatic patient EVER in Bachelor history.🌹
These days, doctor’s offices are so tech savvy that I received a text from Dr. Katherine Little’s office (thank you, Meg, for the referral – loved her!) reminding me of my appointment. And since I’ve already proven I’m a very wimpy patient, I enlisted the help of my mom to transport me to and from the procedure. Here’s the exchange we had last night.
I’m proud to say my mom arrived on time and was very responsible to get me where I needed to go. My sister, Ashley, also joined us for a bit, because clearly I work better in a group. And as we sat in the little holding room (which had a wind chill of approximately 15 degrees) waiting for results, Ashley mentioned she was COLD. The nurse whipped around and draped her with a warm blanket without missing a beat. My friends Amy and Angela call me the Sugar Queen (a nice person who has absolutely no problem being waited on), but after seeing Ash all snuggled up at MY appointment, I handed my crown over to her. It felt like she earned it.
After we thawed, Dr. Little came in to report that my colon was perfectly healthy! But the only thing I think I heard was that I don’t have to tap the Moviprep for 5 more years. Hallelujah.
As far as everything else goes, I am feeling fantastic. Thank you to everyone who continues to ask when they see me. You guys know how to make a girl feel so loved. I started working out again this summer, and have been humbled by how long it has taken to get my stamina back to where I was before cancer so rudely interrupted my life. It started with daily hikes in Colorado and has morphed into workouts at Gold’s Gym & Camp Gladiator (shout out to Meredith & Laila!). I’m not quite where I used to be, but I hope to be close by Christmas.
My hair is still creeping along, but getting longer by the day. I was finally able to use an actual ponytail holder for the first time THIS WEEK in over a year! It’s the little things. Before now, I haven’t even had enough hair for the ponytail holder to stay in, but I’m happy to report it stayed all day and I was so happy to finally feel like a girl again!!!
B A B Y S T E P S.
So…next up I have another follow up (which will be my 12 month f/u) October 29th with my oncologist. It’s hard to believe that milestone is approaching, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Thank you all so much for continuing to follow my journey and for cheering me on in life. My level of compassion for others has deepened significantly as a result of this experience, as has my relationship with God. In the past, I feel like there have been many times in regards to other’s tough circumstances when I have said, I hope that NEVER happens to me or to my family. I’m sure we’ve all felt that way. You might have even felt that way about what I went through last year. But through cancer, God has taught me so many lessons about myself and others. He has deepened my understanding of just how big He really is. He has given me patience I truly didn’t think was possible (especially with 3 teenagers in the house). And He has given me the best gift of all: perspective. Because of that, (and, well the totally inappropriate selfies), I will try to never say never again.
Until next time, much love to you all & make every day count,
PS: Please schedule your mammograms & colonoscopies!!!!
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…” Colossians 1:9-11