Friday, September 30, 2011

Chemo Day 1 & Day 2...

Getting ready in the morning...

At the end of Chemo Day 1

And now, today.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best. Email. Ever.

Dear Rica,

Congratulations! You have hit the $10,000 fundraising mark, and we are thrilled to invite you to participate in the 2011 Ride for the Roses Weekend as a White Jersey member. We cannot thank you enough for all of your hard work and we look forward to celebrating your accomplishments.

This year’s Ride for the Roses Weekend will take place in conjunction with the Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge (Oct. 14-16). We’re looking forward to a wonderful event and we have many exciting activities planned to thank you for your efforts in the global fight against cancer.

As a White Jersey member, you are now eligible for the following Ride Weekend incentives:

Ride for the Roses Jacket
Ride for the Roses White Jersey
Bus transportation to all Weekend Events (to/from the Downtown Hyatt)
Friday Welcome Dinner (plus 1 guest)
Saturday 5K Entry (plus 1 guest)
Saturday Awards Dinner (plus 1 guest)
Sunday Ride Entry (plus 1 guest)
Sunday Hospitality Tent Entry (plus 1 guest)


Again, we send our sincere thanks for your support of LIVESTRONG and the global fight against cancer. We are excited to welcome you to Austin and to celebrate your remarkable fundraising accomplishments.

We’ll see you in October!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This is what I think my docs were doing since the sonogram done on my right breast on Friday. This is how I picture them deciding whether or not to move forward with the chemo this morning, and how they decided who would call me.

As last night's blog explained, I was supposed to start chemo this morning. The only thing that might have interfered was if the slight redness of the right breast and the swelling was a sign of infection. So I had a sonogram done Friday, which showed no problems. My last conversation with Dr. Nordberg was that the sonogram looked good and it didn't appear to be an infection, but it would be Dr. Tepler's call. I called the doctor's office all day yesterday to confirm that chemo was starting this morning. I spoke to staff. Left messages, etc. Finally, I was told if I didn't hear back, to assume chemo was on. This was late in the afternoon. I was assured a call back from the doctor that evening. I'd already taken the morning steroids, and since I hadn't heard back from the doctor, I had to assume chemo was on as scheduled, and I took the evening steroids.

I spent a huge chunk of the night on the internet chatting with the (amazing) Jody Schoger, fellow LIVESTRONG Leader and sherpa extraordinaire, about the chemo. I spent the rest of the night fretting. I didn't get to sleep until 3:30 am. I got up at 6:15 am, as I was getting picked up at 7:15. I got my son out the door, and was just about to hop into the shower when I decided to check my Blackberry. I like to delete morning emails about weather and traffic as soon as they come in so that I know new email is much more important.

At that point, I see an email from Dr. Nordberg, my plastic surgeon. In short, he apologized but wanted to let me know chemo was being postponed. The email was stamped at 6:15 am.

I was livid. Why is my plastic surgeon telling me my chemotherpy session is cancelled? Why didn't my oncologist call me? Or email me? And why did no one tell me anything until after 6:00 am? My oncologist was supposed to call me back the afternoon before!

In a sense, as angry as I am, I'm more disappointed that simple, administrative issues are interfering and angering me with a practice in which I was very confident. The oncology office was, bar none, confidence building. I didn't have a flicker of worry about whether or not it was the write practice for me. But can you imagine if I hadn't gotten that email? The office staff still had me down for chemo! Had I shown up, they would have administered the chemo!

So I was 'roided up enough that I could have lifted Andre the Giant over my head, I was jittering and shaking all day, and my entire week has been thrown off.

I'd finally gotten to the point where I was as ready as I'd ever be, but, then the doctors completely missed the boat! And, even now, the oncology practice has yet to return my call and actually rescheduling my chemo!

I want to ride my bicycle...

I start my first round of chemo tomorrow morning, in just a few hours. While the time from diagnosis to surgery went pretty quickly, and it was rather extreme surgery, it was absolutely black and white what surgery was necessary. Between the Grade 3 cancer and the BRCA2 genetic test results, it was a no brainer. No regrets.

But this, this took all month at which to arrive. It was a bevy of appointments, hurry up and wait weeks, in-bed recovery, breaking that rule, swollen breasts, irritated drain sites, stubborn fluid, and random fires to put out. And then, when the tests came back, the results were showing nasty cancer, but radiology was ruled out. I thought I was in the clear. That I wasn't going to be the "typical" breast cancer patient. I was a survivor out the gate. Lop off the bad tissue, get the new girls, and defy the stereotype of bald hair, no eyebrows, scarves and wigs.

And, just when I thought I could pull out my bike and start to ride again, I found out I'm having chemo. Which meant more days stuck inside making calls, preparing, and just curling up in my bed.

All I wanted to do was to ride my bike. Just load it up, kit up, find a quiet, straight, long road and ride. I just wanted to start pedaling and get lost in the motion. I needed to feel the wind against my face, hear the whirring of the wheels, the clicking of the shifters, and to feel like I was flying, weightless. I wanted to get lost on those roads for hours, with just enough water, snacks and road that could take all day, from sunrise to sunset. I'd block out the cars. I'd forget that I had cancer. I'd blow off the doctors. I'd have a truly "cancer-free day." The word "cancer" wouldn't come up, because it would just be the sun on my skin, the forced wind through my hair, me, my music and my bike.

But, just like not avoiding chemotherapy and hairloss, I managed to not have a single day to ride my bike. To be free, again.

I'm feeling like a caged bird. A lark. "Nothing there sings, Not even my lark. Larks never will, you know, when they're captive..."

So, I sit in my damask cage, tonight, trapped. I step foot out of my house in the morning and I really become a cancer patient.

I don't even think I can call myself a cancer "fighter" anymore. I can't fight the chemo. And it's fighting the cancer.

I'm just the pin cushion.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tonight is Yellow Night at Danny's Cycles to benefit LIVESTRONG! Check out the Silent Auction Items!

Tonight is the Yellow Night at Danny's Cycles to benefit LIVESTRONG! It is looking like it will be a fantastic evening of wine from Zachys and cheese, dessert, and raising awareness and funds for LIVESTRONG! All of our Silent Auction items are listed and you can place a bid online for your favorite item! This will be a true silent auction, so you won't know if you win until the end of the evening, but as long as you live in the United States and are willing to pay the shipping fees, it's all yours!

A tremendous thank you to Danny's Cycles!

Item 1: Wine Basket from Zachys ($1,000 value)

Graciously donated by Zachys, this basket has 5 fine wines. Reds and whites of the highest quality are included. Estimated value of $1,000.

Item #3: "28" Poster signed by Levi Leipheimer


This framed limited edition 28 poster is a mosaic of LIVESTRONG supporters that RadioShack issued in 2010. Pro cyclist, Levi Leipheimer signed this poster in Austin, TX during the 2010 LIVESTRONG Challenge Weekend. Levi Leipheimer has been a Tour de France podium winner, Leadville 100 champion and was the 2011 first place winner of the Tour of Utah. Estimated value of $75.

Item #5: Trek Travel Jersey & Socks

This set of size X-Small Trek Travel jersey and pair of Trek Travel socks is exclusively for participants in one of Trek Travel's cycling tours. Estimated value of $100.

Item #7: Tour of Utah Polo

Another exclusive item from the Tour of Utah, this navy polo features an embroidered UCI logo and was brought back from the Tour of Utah by a Versus producer. Estimated value of $60.

Item #9: Purple Glass Heart Necklace & Earring Set

Stunning hand-crafted purple glass heart necklace and earrings sparkle in gold flecks. The pendant features a lovely flower. Estimated value of $35.


Item #11: Ramona Singer Signed Pinot Grigio

Ramona Singer, cast member of the Real Housewives of New York, not only autographed this bottle of her signature Pinot Grigio, but knowing this was to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Ramona also signed the bottle with LIVESTRONG.Estimated value of $40.

Item #13: Autographed Team RadioShack Poster

Framed Team RadioShack poster signed by 6 team members of the 2010 roster, including 2010 U.S. National Road Champion Ben King, Jani Brajkovic,  Markel Irizar, Yaroslav “Popo” Popovych and Jason McCartney. Estimated value of $100.

Item #14b: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Gary Fisher

Known as one of the founding fathers of mountain biking, Gary Fisher was one of the first to get on board with the With The Band project! Nab this piece of cycling history! Estimated value of $55.

Item #14d: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Tim Johnson

Tim Johnson is one of America's best professional cyclocross racers, currently with Cannondale's pro team. Johnson has won United States Cyclocross National Championships on six occasions. Tim signed this wristband at a rest stop on his Bikes Belong Ride on Washington, DC for this auction. Estimated value of $55.

Item #14f: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by John "College" Korioth

"College" may first be recognized as one of Lance Armstrong's closest friends, but don't let that fool you. John's accomplishments include palmares that would impress any competitive cyclist, opening and running two of Austin's hottest hot spots and a history of fundraising an unprecedented support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Estimated value of $35.

Item #14h: With the Band Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Sergio Paulinho

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist made an international name for himself once again when he won Stage 10 of the 2010 Tour de France for Team RadioShack. A generous domestique, well-liked by team members and fellow members of the pro-cycling peloton, Sergio autographed a set of wristbands to benefit LIVESTRONG. Estimated value of $55.

Item #14j: With the Band Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Dave Wiens

David Wiens is known most for his six consecutive wins in the Leadville Trail 100 MTB mountain bike race including defeating both Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong of Tour de France fame. Last year, his "Tombstone" belt buckle in autographed box sold for a $750 donation to LIVESTRONG. Estimated value of $55.

Item 2: "Vampire Diaries" poster signed by the stars

Signed by Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder & Paul Wesley, this framed poster was autographed and sent specifically for this auction to benefit LIVESTRONG. Donated by Nick Wauters. Estimated value of $200.

Item #4: Watercolor Print

Donated by a local art lover, this lovely piece of framed art depicts a butterfly, a sign of life and loveliness. Estimated value of $100.

Item #6: Team RadioShack Tour of Utah T-Shirt

Donated by a producer at Versus, this limited edition Team RadioShack t-shirt was designed specifically for the 2011 Tour of Utah, which was won by team member Levi Leipheimer. Estimated value of $40.

Item #8: Handlebar Mustache "Pedalin' Squares" T-Shirt

Every cyclist has had that moment where we feel like our wheels no longer want to turn for us. Handlebar Mustache has cleverly depicted that feeling in this baby-soft, 100% cotton t-shirt.Estimated value of $26.

Item #10: Aqua Glass Heart Necklace & Earring set

Stunning hand-crafted blue glass heart necklace and earrings sparkle in gold flecks. The pendant features a lovely flower. Estimated value of $35.


Item #12: "Secrets of a Jewish Mother" signed by Jill Zarin, Lisa Wexler & Gloria Kamen

This must-have guidebook, with a touch of family reality and humor, was autographed by the three authors, cast member of the Real Housewives of New York, Jill Zarin, sister, radio personality and attorney, Lisa Wexler, and their mother, beloved guru of practical guidance, Gloria Kamen. Also, knowing this was for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Jill wrote the message, "LIVESTRONG." Estimated value of $40.

Item #14a: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by João Correia

This inspirational cyclist, who rejoined the ranks of professional cyclists at 35 after being in the publishing world for at least a decade, João generously autographed a LIVESTRONG wristband for the cause. Last year, his wristband sold for over $50. Estimated value of $55.

Item #14c: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Richard Fries

 A highly respected journalist, marketer, and ambassador for cycling, Richard Fries signed this wristband as he accompanied pro cyclist Tim Johnson on their ride from Boston to Washington, DC for Bikes Belong. Estimated value of $35.

Item #14e: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Ted King

An American road racing cyclist from Brentwood, New Hampshire, King rides for Liquigas-Cannondale, a UCI ProTeam. Last year, Ted and João had a bidding war on eBay. Both wristbands sold for over $50 - all for LIVESTRONG. Estimated value of $55.

Item #14g: With the Band
Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Elizabeth Kreutz

Accomplished sports photographer, Elizabeth Kreutz has has traveled around the world and been granted exclusive access to photograph Lance Armstrong and the Discovery and Astana cycling teams. She has also photographed the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In 2009, Liz co-authored Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal with Lance. Estimated value of $35.

Item #14i: With the Band Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Nate Weston

Nate Weston is an exciting, up-and-coming cyclist who has ridden in Under-23 development squads, has had the opportunity to ride with cycling greats like George Hincapie, and has developed a following of young cycling fans. Estimated value of $35.

Item #14k: With the Band Signed LIVESTRONG Wristband by Jill Zarin, Ally Shapiro Zarin, Gloria Kamen

Entrepreneur, author and New York Housewife and staunch supporter of cancer survivorship., Jill Zarin, her daughter and also guest on the Real Housewives of New York, Ally Shapiro Zarin, and her mother and author, Gloria Kame, autographed one LIVESTRONG wristband specifically for this auction. Estimated value of $55.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Well, ain't that a kick in the pants...

Met with Dr. Tepler yesterday afternoon to go over the Onctotype score and what it means. As previously mentioned, if I scored 18 or under, it would mean that I wouldn't benefit from chemotherapy. A score higher than 18 would mean that I should benefit. And, wouldn't you know, instead of just being able to vote, I'm legal to drink. Yes, I came in at 21. Which means enough to make chemotherapy beneficial.


The chemo I'm being put on is only administered 4 times over 12 weeks, which isn't too bad. It's called TC - Taxotere & Cytoxan. The good news is that there's not much nausea, no real big pain problems. The immune system booster may make my bones "ache," but that's it. Except for one side effect.

I will, 100% for sure, lose all my hair between the second and third round of chemo. Which means between October 18 and November 7, I'll be as bald as a coot.

I was able to rationalize the double mastectomy has merely a really extreme boob job. Not ideal, nothing I'd ever planned, but that's the net result, right?

But chemo? 3 hours of sitting in a room with a needle in my room, poison being injected into me. (I'm going to be bored to tears. I mean, can I have my laptop with me? I'd better be able to have my laptop... focus, Rica, focus... ) Even though TC doesn't have too many side effects, what if I'm the 1 in 300 that does? Odds have been all over the place with me.

Chemo alone would be one thing.

But losing my hair? I've been so depressed over having a short haircut that, at the time, felt liberating but, upon restrospect, had me quarantined in the house for weeks. I love my hair. I mean, I genuinely love my hair. Ironically, it hasn't been this healthy since I was a child when I had my Laura Ingalls braids. When all I had to do was swim in the pool and play in the sun and I would go from rich, ash blonde hair to Barbie blonde wisps. When I could grow my hair to my waist. When I used to take baths just so I could submerge my head and watch my hair move around me like a mermaid's hair, swirling around my face.

And, now, after years of trying to make my hair stay straight, I'd finally learned that my hair was curly, and the frizzy insanity that had plagued me when I tried to style my hair tamed into what my hair stylist called "Mermaid hair." I'd let the processed hair grow out, and I'm now left with my virgin hair, my original color, which, after some bike rides and time in the sun, was just starting to get sun-kissed as it did when I was a kid. And I was finally getting some length.

As if my ego weren't frail enough after losing my bosom, which I didn't have much to complain about prior to the mastectomies, I am now leaving the last remaining (visible) sign of femininity. Can a wig really replace that? Will a wig ever feel like it's a part of me? I'm concerned enough that the silicone will always feel like a foreign body and not a part of me. And now, until at least May or June, I'm going to have to have a wig to replace my hair?

I do not have a good bald head, either. The one styling complaint I've had is the fact that I have a slope in the back of my head. Fortunately, the curly hair and layering has covered it, as have elastics and barrettes. But bald? I'll have no way to hide it.

And the scarf? The tell-tale scarf? The, "WOW, that lady is bald - she must have cancer!" scarf? Yes, I used to wear a bandana on a regular basis at camp and in school. But with my hair flowing out the back, with just the right curl of hair at the front poking out. But this will not be a Johnny Depp homage. This will not be a kefiyah to ward off the sun in the Israeli desert. I'll have no hair poking out the bottom. I'll have no eyebrows. No eyelashes.

Yes, I know, I won't have to shave my legs, or my armpits. I won't have to worry about a bad hair day, as I stated in that last blog. But, honestly, I wrote that last blog thinking that the chemo plan wouldn't be as harsh and I'd have a chance to save my hair. I didn't realize that the shorter, easier chemo plan Dr. Tepler spoke about had only one real side effect - the hair loss.

Now, I'm going to look like Kim Zolciak, only without real eyebrows or eyelashes. And that's really bad. I can't imagine that a wig can look like it grew from my scalp. On-stage? Sure. For Halloween? Absolutely. But look at this. You can see it's a wig a mile away.

I can't help but remember teachers from Bi-Cultural who were so painfully obviously wearing wigs. I could never understand why anyone would voluntarily wear a wig. They stand so much higher above where they should. You don't have a natural hair line. It just looks wrong.

And my hair is never overly-styled. It's always tousled, unless I really go all out and straighten and style it for an event. And even then, it falls into its natural position.

How can a wig fall into anything natural? Even human-hair?

Anyway, to make matters worse, when Dr. Tepler and I figured things out, he told me very simply that I won't be able or alright with going wigless for months - not until May or June! Are you kidding me?!

How am I going to do this?

I am going to shave my head. I have to. I can't bear to see clumps of hair disappear. I get upset enough after the shower when, thanks to my Hashimoto's Disease, I see more hair than others normally see wash away. At least there aren't bald spots. But this? The random spots of scalp? I can't do it.

Besides, I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl. And this way, I can donate my hair to someone else.

So, I'm shaving my head. On October 16. At the LIVESTRONG Challenge with my LIVESTRONG friends and family, my children at my side. I'm taking charge. I'm going to take my hair before the chemo does.

I'm asking you to be a part of it. My kids are making me a big card, which will be with us on Sunday at ROCK the RIDGE benefiting LIVESTRONG and Yellow Night at Danny's, and everyone who donates $18 or more to my LIVESTRONG Challenge Account from now until September 23 (the last day for Ride for the Roses qualification) to sponsor the head shaving will get to sign the card. (We'll sign your names for online donations.) The kids' idea is that the card will remind me, when I get depressed about not having my hair, that there are people who support me, who can see past the baldness when I can't. (If you're going to be in Austin for the Challenge, donate $50 and you can physically help shave my head and take a swipe with the clipper!)

Donate today. LIVESTRONG.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Facing Chemo: The Pros

I got word yesterday that I'm going to need chemo. I don't know if I'm going to lose my hair, for sure, but with my luck...

So, I'm putting together a "pro" list of chemo...
  • I will finally make Chabad, the ladies in Meah She'arim that spat at me, and all the Orthodox Rabbis that taught me that once I was married I had to cover my hair proud that I'm finally covering my head, wearing a shaidel, a big hat and/or a scarf, with not a single strand of natural hair will be seen in public
  • No such thing as a "bad hair day"
  • I won't have to worry about how much it costs to get my hair done
  • I won't have to pluck my eyebrows
  • A valid reason to buy those ridiculously lush false eyelashes that all the Real Housewives wear
  • I'll be my own case study for how amazing Mary Kay's skin care and makeup is
  • I can impersonate my cousin if I get a long, deep auburn/brown wig and chemo makes me lose a lot of weight
  • My hair won't get smushed under my bike helmet anymore
  • The kids and I can dress as the Three Stooges for Halloween, and I can be Curly
  • APPLE FRITTERS (an homage to Lance Armstrong)
  • Can you get a Handicapped Sticker for chemo?
  • If I'm lucky, I fall on the weight-loss side of chemo, not the weight gain
And, I can wear wigs... I already have these from various costumes:
I have this in glow-in-the-dark filament!
I have a MUCH better version of this one
And this one from my Morticia
Lillian Vernon costume

But... now, if I lose my hair, I can wear THESE...
Flash to 3rd Grade!
Bratty Punk
Severe Israeli
My inner goth
If I get the new boobs, I can pose on a plane's wing
(unless my Rock gets to it and drops
a bucket of nails through it.)
Pitti Sing! "Three Little Maids Are We!"
Last, but not least, if I am afraid of the dark!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Challenge Yourself Off-Road Sunday to Benefit LIVESTRONG: ROCK the RIDGE at West Rock Ridge State Park

Much of my summer blog entries are dedicated to mountain bike race reports. Tales of absurd victories  (When getting first place doesn't feel like such a win (Chal-lange 2011) - July 2011), health mishaps (NECS #2 Race Report: Like, oh my gawd! Gag me with a spoke!), riding through hurricanes (Let the LIVESTRONG Rumpus Begin.. and end... dear gawd, end!), and facing challenges and fears ("Chal-lange!" (Part I) & "Chal-lange!" (Part I)). That's because I find each race to be so different from one another, and, unlike the charity rides, the competitive spirit in me comes out. I'm not at a point where I can realistically race others, but I'm working at it.

Mountain biking comes with some many ups and downs. Not only do you have elevation and climbing, as you do with road biking, but you've got terrain, unstable ground, obstacles, things whipping at you, mud, and all kinds of other challenges that road riding doesn't present.

Road riding can be challenging too, don't get me wrong. And I love it. But mountain bike racing, I'm finding, is much closer to what I've been experiencing fighting cancer. Not only do you have the everyday up and down, but as soon as you start the race and leave the clarity of the start, you venture into the woods of the unknown. When you concentrate on all the things that could go wrong, all the trees you may crash into, you doom yourself to crashing. And when you crash, you have to get back up and ride. You don't have much of a choice. There aren't SAG wagons, or cars that can give you a lift. You're on your own. Bleeding, or muddy, you have to ride on. And while you're recovering from the first blow, you're likely to suffer another. Your machine may get damaged, but you have to continue on. Fellow racers who have "been there" pass you by, offer their support, "love on you," and encourage you to move on. And then, as soon as you leave the woods, and back onto the open field, you realize you have to go back in again - you have another round to go.

This Sunday, I am asking each of you, and your friends and family, that are up for the challenge to ride for me. I am running an EFTA-sanctioned mountain bike race, close to home, but I can't race it. I can't ride it. I'm still fighting my own cancer. And I just found out today that I'm going to need chemo. It's going to be tough enough to get back on my bike for the LIVESTRONG Challenge in October. But I know that I will not be strong enough to do this race.

That's where you come in. Register Today! Ride for me. Ride for someone you love. Ride for yourselves. CHALLENGE YOURSELVES! And bring friends. Lots of friends.

FYI, if you come, and present your race bib to SBC in Hamden right after the race, we'll be treated to a small buffet, a FREE beer or soda AND 1/2 price entrees!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Post-Treatment Bucket List

Despite some contraversy on Facebook a couple of years ago, a Bucket List was bouncing around. There have been things on my life-long bucket list, but now, I'm putting together a new Bucket List. A Post-Treatment Bucket List.
  1. Race the Tour d'Israel as a member of Team LIVESTRONG and make it an annual LIVESTRONG opportunity
  2. Go back to Israel. And do so with great frequency
  3. Do a Warrior Dash for LIVESTRONG (AND WHO IS GOING TO JOIN ME?!?!?!)
  4. Do a Muddy Buddy for LIVESTRONG (again, WHO IS GOING TO BE MY BUDDY?)
  5. Do a Spartan Race for LIVESTRONG
  6. Do a Death Race for LIVESTRONG (Ironic, no?)
  7. Become a Mary Kay Independent Sales Director, already!
  8. Build my bike garage under the porch
  9. Build that lawn furniture I've been sketching for years
  10. Go on an all-inclusive cruise & vacation, without the kids or with serious child care, to the Caribbean and then visit Oaxaca, Mexico and hike the wilderness and have custom-made chocolate bars
  11. Treat the kids to a no-holds-barred Disney Experience
  12. Ride the Leadville 100
  13. Fight the insurance industry's obnoxious belief that they are smarter than anyone else and can use legal loopholes and the finest of print to screw people who are too afraid to fight them out of procedures and healthcare that they are entitled to
  14. Finish my house
  15. Hire a regular housecleaner so I never have to waste a second of my life cleaning the house, which I suck at anyway
  16. Get a Gary Fisher 29er and finally become the mountain-biker I know I have somewhere within
  17. Ride alongside Lance Armstrong

My cups underfloweth...

Maybe it's the mostly uneventful days in bed (well, save the hurricane), or the fact that I still have drains in, a surgical vest on, and still can't pick stuff up, but it seems like only yesterday that I was leaving the hospital. As I threw out the last of the floral arrangements (save the single sunflower my friend, Sara gave me), I realized it's been 2 weeks since the mastectomies. It just seems like such a long time and I haven't seem to have done much.

My house is still a mess. I haven't gone in to work, save a couple of hours 2 days. I haven't done anything with my bikes, save move the mountain bike over so I could clean up a kitty litter spill. I feel like I've lost time. So much time.

My doctors assure me that I'm coming along well. We got the pathology - all lymphnodes were clear, so no radiation - yay! It was Stage 1, and the "tumor," if you can call it that, was less than 0.8 cm. Turns out the left breast tissue was 100% clear, but no regrets given the odds of recurrence. Dr. Nordberg, my plastic surgeon, and Ana, my visiting nurse, are ecstatic about "how well I'm healing." Except Dr. Nordberg did spank me for doing too much - we were hoping to remove the final 2 drains this week, but we'll have to wait another week. Apparently, moving too much and doing too much causes more fluid and swelling.

And I got more saline put into the expanders. Now, that's an experience. I'm not sure if I explained what expanders are or how they work. Contrary to what most people thing "reconstruction" is, you do not leave the operating room after the mastectomy with new boobs. It's a long process, explained pretty well on, which includes inserting temporary, underfilled saline implants called "expanders" underneath the pectoral muscle to stretch the muscle to accommodate the final implants. They initially have a modest amount of saline, and, as the doctor assesses progress, more and more saline is injected into them. The expanders themselves look like sunny-side up eggs with silver yolks. Those silver yolks are the valves into which the doctor injects more saline. And now comes the fun part...

Then the fun begins...

A week or so after the surgery, you go in to see the plastic surgeon. That silver valve is magnetic. The surgeon uses a metal device to locate exactly where the valve is. The surgeon then marks that spot. And then the really disturbingly amusing part...

The first time, Dr. Nordberg told me to turn away. I made the mistake of looking.

Because the skin above the expander is so thing, and nerves are damaged, you don't feel much of what the doctors does. Which isn't a bad thing considering the doctor thrusts an enormously long needle with an even bigger plunger filled with saline into your breast.

That's right. All of a sudden, I went from mastectomy patient to Uma Thurman. But not the tall, glamorous, red carpet walker, but the drug addict, needing adrenaline shot into her heart Uma Thurman (sans the nosebleed and overdose, of course). I was looking down at a large needle sticking out of my chest (and the needle is EXACTLY the same size/proportion as depicted in "Pulp Fiction," with liquid being shot into the right, but feeling it on the left. Yes, another fun factoid: Since the nerves have been messed with, sometimes, as they try and reconnect and rebuild their bridges, sometimes wires get crossed.

And, lest folks think that the last injection of saline that brought me to a b-cup is exciting, yes, it's nice that I have larger breasts than a pre-teen girl again, but the expansion process hardly leaves a round, smooth bosom. You can see the ripple of muscle underneath the skin, and not in a hot athletic manner. It's not evenly spread, and the post-operative swelling makes it look like I have fat pouches bulging just below the armpit. Knots form in the pectoral muscles that I can't do much about, while kneading the knots in my shoulders actually seems to aggravate my chest aches.

Coughing and sneezing is exceedingly difficult, as there is already pressure across my chest. Every once in a while, as my allergies flared up and then settled in my lungs, when I cough, it feels like the expanders are trying to push their way through the muscle tissue. It's like an internal noogie.

Walking up and down the stairs and the street leaves me absolutely winded. I hate having to answer the phone after I've come in from my daily stroll to the mailbox around the corner and back, having to apologize for the fact that I sound like a horny prank caller instead of the lady of the house.

I'm getting sick of not being able to do the laundry. And I'd like to cook my own dinner. I want to weed whack. I want to mow the lawn. I want to pull weeds. I'm tired of feeling like a jelly-fish with these drains flapping about under what few tops I can wear that don't pull on the tubes projecting from my rib cage.

And I want to ride my bike.

It looks like I won't get the remaining drains removed this week. Which means another week of these things which have to be milked and emptied, that prevent me from showering like a normal person, that I accidentally yank whenever I have to take off my pants, or roll over in my bed. I've already pulled one almost half an inch out, and now it seeps.

I have way too much to do than to worry about what my drainage is for the day, or what angle at which my arm's rotation causes a sharp cramp in my chest that freezes my arm temporarily. I have fundraisers to plan and run. I have almost $9,000 to raise by September 23rd so we can reach our Ride for the Roses goal for the LIVESTRONG Challenge.

Cancer has already robbed me of most of the month of July and the entire month of August. Cancer's now eating into the month of September, the way it invaded my breast.

I deserve some time back.