Sunday, June 27, 2010


Boy, sometimes I can take FOREVER to write to y’all!  As you know, though, I got my last shot of Neulasta.  That translates to me being very sick & tired.  Lots of naps.  I’m getting better, though, & celebrating the fact that it was my LAST one!!  Woo Hoo!

Here’s what’s happened since I wrote last.

On Tuesday, the 15th, I met with my oncological surgeon, Dr. Quiros.  For those of you who haven’t seen him yet, here he is:

Isn’t he adorable??  And very, very sweet.  Bonus, according to the surgical nurses at St. Luke’s, both he & Dr. Morrissey (my booby daddy) are two of the best surgeons there. 

Hey, I have to do SOMETHING while waiting to be operated on.  So I talk to all the nurses & other patients in the pre-op room.  As IF you didn’t know or expect that already!  They spill like a glass of milk on a ship in the middle of a hurricane.

Anyway, he’s very pleased that I’m done with chemo.  However, he couldn’t take out the stupid chemo port until after he got the ok from Capt. Compassion.  Boogers. 

Guess what – on occasion & under the right circumstances, Dr. Quiros can take the port out in his very own office.  After he shared that little tid bit of information, though, he kind of grinned & said,

“YOU, however, I’ll do in the hospital”.

He explained that because nothing has ever gone according to plan when it comes to operating on me, he'd rather both he & I be safe.  When he originally installed the port, it was supposed to be a quick operation.  Instead, it took hours & I spent the night at the hospital, since he couldn’t place it where he originally planned.  He spoke to Matt after surgery & laughed; he didn’t know why it would surprise him that things didn’t go to plan.  “After all”, he said, “its Tamara.  Or, should I say, Lucy”.

Wednesday, I saw Dr. Morrissey, my booby daddy.  He’s just keeping tabs on me because he’s never had a patient like me.  He says he means that in the nicest way, but, still.  It’s kinda unnerving when your surgeon wants to keep an eye on you because you make him nervous – just being you.  Sigh.

I asked him about the TRAM flap, which is a way of reconstructing my breast.  He told me that he really has no idea what he's going to do.  It all depends upon my skin after the radiation.  Some folk's skin kind of shrivels up.  Here're two photos of "after" radiation.  The first one is kind of gross, so, you're warned:

Here's another example.  However, as you can see, after one month, this lady's breast is just about the same.  She didn't have a mastectomy, but you still get the idea of her skin before & after.
 So there you can see the reason Dr. Morrissey has no idea how my skin is going to respond.  He says most women get back to pretty much normal, but the amount of time it takes for one may not be the same for the other.  We've decided to wait until after Christmas. 

I mean, think about all the holidays & vacations me & this stupid breast cancer have managed to screw up.  And not for me, but my family.  My babies have put up with so much, & you'd never know it.  They act like it's nothing.  Folks, I'm one of the luckiest mommy's on the planet.  My kids have gone out of their way to make me feel that this is nothing; just a blurb.

Still, I had the mastectomy a few days before Thanksgiving.  Christmas Eve, I got a raging fever (104.1 & rising steadily) & my incision was leaking buckets.  Christmas Day I wasn't even conscious.  The day after Christmas I was in the hospital being operated on due to a major staph infection.  The staph infection ate the tissue expander, which resulted in it being taken out. Morrissey said he'd never seen anything like it.  Of course not, I'm Lucy (which he said, too).  Trust me, folks, he's done a lot of surgeries, & for him to say that, he really meant it.  He explained that it was kind of like picking toothpicks out of a haystack, it was so badly damaged. 

There was another surgery due to the staph infection, & a lengthy hospital visit sometime after Christmas.  Dr. Morrissey wanted to keep the wound open & packed, plus he wanted me on IV antibiotics.  After 5 days in the hospital, he allowed me to go home, but only if I had a visiting nurse every day to clean out the wound.

Next, I had to have surgery to close the incision.  Of course, this was during our area's biggest snow storm ever – aaagggghhhh!  You can read about that little episode in "Surgery in a Snowstorm"

Then, I started chemo, followed by my darling (she says sarcastically) shot of Neulasta.  There was no way I could go on vacation to the shore with the rest of my family. 

I've completed chemo (woo hoo), but am about to begin radiation.  With my luck, something will happen, & plans to go up to the Bushkill house will swirl the drain & finally complete the process by going straight down it.

Now, on the bright side, Matt found this really cool house in Maryland.  It's near the beach, the Harbour, Washington DC, & a million other cool places for us to visit.  Here's a picture:

We're hoping to go there in October (unless something else goes horribly, Lucily wrong), which will be the anniversary after receiving my diagnosis.  Rather than having October always be a suck month in the minds of our children forever, we figured going on vacation & "doing it up" will change the stigma of October.  Keep your fingers crossed, or if you don't mind, would you say a prayer that it all works out for us to go?

I'm going continue being patient, & wait until after Christmas & New Year's to even begin to schedule reconstruction.  I know, it boggles the mind that I could possibly possess a thimble's worth of patience. 

The thing is, I only want to have reconstruction done once.  And I want it done spectacularly.  Plus, not having to have a tissue expander gives me the freedom to pick & choose the size of boobies I'll get, without the discomfort of expanding my skin.  Do I want Dolly Parton, watermelon sized (each) boobs, or do I want a pair of "D"'s?

See, I'll have time to make those decisions.  Of course, I plan to take Michele (Ethel) with me to lingerie shops.  Oops, I forgot to tell her about it.  Heads up, Michele!  We'll come armed with bushels of toilet paper, & I'm going to try on bras in all sizes.  Maybe Morrissey will give me some silicone fakies to take instead of the toilet paper.  You know what?  I'm pretty sure he has them.  So, I'll take them instead.  My friend, Shellie, told me not to go too big.  She has that problem & doesn't want me to go nuts.  Shellie, I'll try to keep your words of wisdom in my Lucy brain – honest!  Just remember whose brain we're talking about here!!!!

'Nuther Update!

Dr. Quiros got the ok from Capt. Compassion to take out my chemo port.  I meet with him this Tuesday, the 29th.  We'll set up time for surgery, & then at the beginning of July, I'll get myself mapped for radiation.

All in all, I'm pretty darned happy.  The doctors don't think that the cancer has spread.  Dr. Quiros wants me to have the remaining left breast mammogramed – a lot.  I have one scheduled for September 10th.  I'll be going to St. Luke's Regional Breast Health Center in Center Valley.

Bonus, I get to see (I HOPE) The best nurse in the world, Sue Folk & Dr. Evil, Laurie Sebastiano.
Trust me folks, she's so NOT evil.  She's the best darned radiologist that ever lived.  And Susan could make even the most nervous person calm.  I can't wait til I can take those two women out for lunch.  They were both there during the worst time of my life, & they did their dead level best to make me feel better.   All of the women there are the women you want in your life when you hear the devastating news.

So, now you're up to speed.  I'm hoping that I'll get the port out soon, then let's get this radiation done!!  Plus, I have to work on my book & get back to writing full time for the Allentown Examiner.

Talk to you later!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Done with Chemo. . And, Speaking of Tattoos

Wednesday, we went to get my last super duper triple dose of Taxol.  My LAST ONE, people!  My journey isn’t over yet, but boy, it sure is good to say I did the last of something; anything related to this darned cancer.

Bonus, I didn’t have to meet with Captain Compassion or his trusty side kick.  I met with a different doctor, Dr. Spears.  He was VERY nice.  I was pretty upset that I didn’t have him all along.  I’d consider staying with Buxs Mont for the follow up care, if I knew that Dr. Spears would be my doctor.  But, then there’s the chronic lateness to deal with, so, maybe not.  Here’s what I mean.

We got there at 9:00 am, as per our appointment, which was written on the appointment card that was at home, stapled to my calendar.  We sat down, & a couple of people came in after us.  The nurse came out & called for one of those people.  I thought that maybe they had an 8:45 appt.  After another 10-15 minutes, the nurse came out & called another person who was there after us.  By the third time, I stopped the nurse & asked when we would be taken back.  She said we’d be next.  While doing my blood pressure, I asked her why we were passed over.  Turns out, even though I was scheduled for 9:00, SHE had me on the schedule for 10:15.  Ugh. 

So, I was up early for nothing (& we all know how much I LOVE getting up in the mornings *cough, cough, NOT, cough, cough*), & didn’t get hooked up until 11:00.  Michele, who was going to come get me at 1:00, didn’t need to get there until 3:00.  We got out of there at 3:15.  I was bummed, because her neighbor is a landscape artist & had a boat load of plants on her lawn for ONE DOLLAR!  I was hoping to have time to peruse through them, but that wasn’t to be.

Soooo, the constant lateness on the part of the doctors (remember other posts) & the (not often, & not their faults) mis-timing between the nurse & the scheduling add to my joy at not having to go back.

Wait, I’m not telling the truth.  Thursday, I had my LAST Neulasta shot.  Another thing I don’t have to do!  Woo Hoo!  Still, I’ll have to live with the side effects of it for another 2-3 weeks.  But for me to say it’s my last time, it’s worth it, people!!

I’ll meet with Dr. Cardiges (I think that’s his name – will check & take his photo & let you know) the first week of July, again, I think.  I really should keep better records of who I see & when!  That’s when he’ll do his tattoo mapping that I spoke so lovingly about last post.  Can ya’ tell I’m a little nervous about all this tattooing?

Speaking of Tattoos . . . . . .

Matt reminded me of a cute story about our Elyse.

All of their lives, we told the kids that we’d buy any tattoo they ever wanted, as many as they wanted, & whatever they wanted it to say.  The caveat, however, was that WE get to pick the first one, where it goes & what it says.

Knowing this, Elyse accompanied her friend, Brittany (hi, sweetie, you know we still love you even though you got “tatt’d”) to a tattoo parlor.  Brit wanted a really nice bible verse on her wrist; ask & ye shall receive.  With the correct amount of money, that is!

Now, if you’ve ever watched the tv series, “King of the Hill”, then you know the character named Boomhauer.  He has his own, special way of speaking, which has a tendency to be hard to understand.  Apparently, Brittany's "artist" both looked & sounded just like him. Here’s a photo & a short trailer from the show, just to give you an idea of what Elyse was up against.

Like her mother, Elyse has a hard time keeping quiet.  So, while Brittany was being tattooed, she began to talk, garnering “Boomhauer’s” occasional grunts.  Then, ol’ Boom asked her if she would like a tattoo herself.  And, that’s when this discussion took place:

E:       Oh, my mom & dad said that I could have any tattoo I want, as many as I want, & they’d pay for them.
B:       Dang ol’, wow!
E:       There’s a catch, though.  The first one I get has to be one that they pick out, & it has to be where they say.
B:       What’d they want you to get, a dang ol’ cross?
E:       Nope.
B:       A bible verse, like this here?

Now, before thinking about where she was at & to whom she was speaking, she happily answered.

E:       Nope.  They said it would have to be a big “L”, in the middle of, & as big as, my forehead.

Elyse was very grateful that ol’ Boomhauer had a good sense of humour, because she said you could hear a pin drop in the store.  He started laughing, which she felt help save her & her best friend’s lives.  We’re eternally grateful to you, Mr. Tattoo Boomhauer, where ever you are.

Yup, she’s going to be a full fledged, bona fide Lucy right soon!


My daughter, Aubrie, is one of the most creative (& brilliant) people you’ll ever run across.  She taught herself to play guitar & keyboards.  She taught herself computer graphic arts, & has been working for her father for two years.  Customers come in just for her to design their logos.  I could go on & on, but you get the idea.  When she puts her mind to learn how to do something, it’s as good as done.

As I first began chemo, I decided to knit a scarf to help pass the time.  Aubrie asked if I’d show her how to knit, & I showed her what little I knew, which was straight knitting or purling; scarves only.  This sparked her interest, & she began to teach herself to knit.  And, boy, can that girl knit!  She can start a hat in the morning & be done with it a few hours later.  She taught herself new stitches, learned how to add different colours, & began pumping out the cutest hats you ever saw.

Now, she has her own website to sell her beautiful creations, which include her custom t-shirts.  If you’d like to take a look at it, the name is awberry” (just click on the name).  FYI, growing up, Aubrie’s grandfather called her “Aubrie Strawberry”.  It kind of stuck.

Can you tell I’m one proud mom??

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Time to Report in; and, Update on Aye, Aye, Ayelashes

Matt & I met my new radiologist, Dr. Cardiges (I think that’s his name.  In my defense, there was a lot going on!).  He seemed very, very nice, & he, too, was young.  Folks, I’m getting a complex.  What is UP with the doctors & nurses at St. Lukes?  First, they’re all super nice & you just want to pinch their little cheeks.  Secondly, they’re all young & good looking (boy, how I wish I’d stayed with them for chemo)!  This doctor was no different.   

I didn’t get his picture, cause we were too intrigued at what was going to happen.  I’ll get it next visit, which is the first week of July.  I just feel old enough to be all these nice young men & women’s mothers.  Ugh. 

Guess what?  They’re going to tattoo me!  Yep, you heard right; they’re going to place freckle size tattoos on me to “map” me.  This will make it easier & faster each time I come in.  It’s kind of a connect the dots type of thing.  The doctor promised they’d be small, & that most folks will think they’re freckles.  Still, I’ve never been, you know, “permanently marked” before.  I’ve always wondered what it would feel like, but I didn’t think the radiologist would be the first one to do such a thing to me.  I knew that Dr. Morrissey, after he creates a fake nipple, is going to tattoo colour on said nipple.  So I was ready for that.  Didn’t know I was going to be an experienced tattooed woman by that time, though.  Sigh.




Matt’s always thought tattoos were stupid.  After having seen my fill of older people with tattoos that may have at one time been quite striking, but now look really, really stupid, I tend to agree.  As the body ages, for some reason the ground starts looking good to it, & everything starts heading south.  Some folks say it’s the call of gravity, but I think it just wants to lie down & take a nap. 

One day, I spent a good amount of time behind a woman at the grocery store.  This was due to the fact that she had that cart so full, I was amazed the little wheels didn’t give up & fly off.  It took FOREVER to get her checked out.  You know that scene in Mary Poppins; the one where stuff just keeps coming out of her satchel?  It reminded me of that.

She was a little older than me & (judging by the contents in her well stuffed cart) it appeared that the only person on a diet in her home was her poor puppy.  Did you know they make diet doggy food?  That dog must be really pissed at dinner time.  Poor thing.

Anyway, I spent a good deal of time doing two things – staring at the lump of crumpled colour on the back of her leg that must have at one time been a large tattoo, & the other part trying not to get caught staring at the lump of crumpled colour on the back of her leg that at one time must have been a large tattoo.

Now, two things were running through my Lucy brain.  The most urgent one was curiosity about what the thing on the back of that lady’s leg had once been!  The other pressing thought was – how to figure it out.   So, I grabbed a magazine to put in front of my face as I stared at her leg from beneath it.  Nope, couldn’t tell; I needed to see it closer. 

I put the magazine back, & decided to behave as if I was perusing the candy bars.  I actually crouched down on my knees, & held up two candy bars, pretending to read the ingredients.  I STILL couldn’t make it out & I was getting steadily annoyed.  I even entertained “accidentally” pushing my cart into her, then apologizing as I rubbed (stretched) her leg.  Problem was, the cart wouldn’t ram into her leg – it would bump her considerable rear end.  And there was NO WAY I was rubbing that bad boy!

I even thought about just grabbing her leg & stretching it out like a crumpled map.  It would only take a second, & who could blame me?  I mean, really, people, if you don’t want folks staring at your long dead tattoo, cover it up, wear long pants, or pay to have another tattoo over it that says, “this used to be a ____”; for God’s sakes, do SOMETHING.

The last thing I could think to do was just ask her what it had been.  But after running all the scenarios through my head, I figured that the odds of getting an answer weren’t in my favour.  A dirty look & an indignant “mind your own business, lady” were the winner as to what probably would happen.   Or, I could flee from certain death, with an entire grocery store screaming, “Run, Forest; I mean, Lucy.  Run!” 

I finally gave up trying to figure out what it had once been.  But, it did reinforce the fact that I did not want a tattoo – small or large.

Now look at me.  I’m gonna be tattooed like a lady at a carnival.  Sigh.


Alert Over!  Alert Over!

e.l.f. Eyelashes
I got my gross of e.l.f. eyelashes, & the report is a big ol’ thumbs up!  And get this – each pair comes with its own tube of glue.  As if that wasn’t enough to thrill the living daylights out of me, the instructions are clearly marked – insert pin in top of glue.  Applying that thin line of glue is a piece of cake with the e.l.f. glue.  Happy, happy, joy, joy, happy, happy, joy!  Oh, I could do the hillbilly happy hoedown right about now. 

Another plus was that I didn’t have to trim the ones called “natural”.  I have yet to try on the ones called “dramatic”, & will report on them after I have.  They also have a set called “flirty”, but they’re sold out.  Probably better that way, because with a name like flirty, they’re probably long & slutty looking.  Just the kind of lashes I’d be attracted to.  And just the kind that would send Matt after me with a pair of scissors.

For those of you who actually have lashes, & just want to add a few falsies here & there, they even have individual lashes.  To me, however, that looks like too much work, which I am firmly opposed to.

Now, there is a down side, as is always the case when one thinks they’ve reached their own personal Nirvana.  The lashes themselves don’t appear to be actual, human hair.  You know what, though?  Who cares?  When you put those bad boys on, nobody will ever know that.  In the event that your guy talks about your luxurious locks of hair, & includes your eyelashes in that category, well, I don’t know what to say.  Except, eeeewwww.  Enough said.


After putting these on just about daily, I’m getting the knack.  Here’re a few tips you may find handy as well.

Find the middle of the lash.

Before you begin the application process, be sure you have an idea of where the middle of the lash is as it relates to your own eye.  Look for the center of your iris as the middle of your eye & match it to the middle of the fake lash.  I “mark it” by holding the lash in this middle area while waiting for the glue to dry.  This will keep you from having to adjust it (much); thus eliminating having too many eyelashes on the inside corner of your eyes, running up the sides of your nose,  & causing a crossed eye effect that doesn’t look good on anyone.  Even Angelina Jolie. 

It will also prevent the extra length of lashes at the corners of your eyes (I mentioned this ealier as the attempt to call the look “exotic”).  You won’t have to tell folks, “I wanted them this way”, ala Pee Wee Herman.   And, if they’re too long for your eye, don’t be afraid to cut them.  They’re not like knit sweaters, where you run the risk of unraveling them.

Tacky is best – in THIS situation.

After playing with falsies for a while, I’ve decided that the recommendation on all the lash packaging is best.  Letting the strip of glue that you’ve so carefully applied become tacky is truly the best course of action.

What to do while you wait.

Depending upon how thick you’ve applied your glue, the amount of time for it to become tacky varies.  I’ve found that the recommended “30 seconds” is laughable.  Of course, that’s because I’m probably putting on WAAAAYYYY too thick a line.  I would say that it takes about 60 – 120 seconds.  You can test it by touching it; if it’s still wet, it ain’t there yet. 

The problem is, who has the patience to sit there for up to 2 minutes allowing glue to dry to the tacky point (depending, of course, on your glue application ineptness or ability).  OK, maybe you & most normal people do, but remember, I’m Lucy.  Sitting still without some scatterbrain idea going through my mind is virtually impossible.  I’ve found that keeping myself occupied as much as possible keeps me out of trouble.  For the most part.  Well, for some part.   All right, all right, I’ve got about a 50/50 shot at it.  Shall we move on?

 So what I’ve begun doing is applying the glue to one lash & holding it in my right hand – in the middle (marking it as mentioned above).  Then, since I’m left handed, I put my eye shadow & liner on that eye with my “make up puttin’ on” hand.  By the time I’m done, the glue has usually dried to the point of application.  Repeat with the other eye. 

How to cover too much exposed lash area.

If you haven’t lost your lashes, this tip may or may not be worthwhile to you.  But, us GWOL gals (girls without lashes) have noticed, the lash line can be pretty darned large!  After putting on your falsies, there may seem to be some exposed skin, which is a dead giveaway that you’re wearing falsies.  Here’s my remedy for that, which may take some getting used to.

Line the inside of your upper eye rim with a pencil.  Go up a little on your eye lid.  This will cover any exposed skin that your regular eye liner & applied lashes have missed.  The following picture shows the lower lid, but I couldn’t find any showing the upper, so this’ll have to do:
 I recommend doing this BEFORE you apply the glue to your eyelashes.  That’s because you’re going to need both hands.  Gently lift your upper eyelid, & use a smooth pencil to colour in the area.

I can recommend several different brands, but what I use daily is Milani’s “Liquif’Eye metallic eye liner pencil”.  For some reason, this stuff stays on all day.  I buy mine at CVS Pharmacy, & it’s less than $5.00.  Other things I’ve found that stay on all day are Styli Style’s Line & Seal, or Prestige’s water proof eye liner, & both are around $4.99 as well.  Not bad!


I stumbled upon Revlon’s Precision Lash Adhesive.  Here’s what it looks like:
 As you can see, there’s an applicator with a brush on it instead of just a tube of glue.  For the most part, after getting my lashes on, I’m good.  However, if one lash or the other has a spot that has decided to migrate from your skin, this stuff comes in handeeee!  You just use the brush & apply it to wherever you need it.  The brush gives it the precision the tube & your fingers just can’t.  Don’t be weirded out, though, because this stuff goes on neon blue.  It stays that way for well over a minute or two, but trust me, it dries clear.

I take this with me whenever I go out.  There have been times when I’ve shed a tear or two (mostly at the stupid oncologist’s office).  Even though most glues claim to be waterproof, trust me, they’re not.  Having that nifty brush applicator sure does come in handy when you need to reattach a section or two of lash in a bathroom mirror.  And, if it’s a shared mirror, don’t be surprised if you get another woman asking you where you got that stuff!

OK, happy campers, that’s the update so far.  I’ll have my final super duper triple dose of chemo on Wednesday, June 9th.  I’ll keep you posted!

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