Helping Hands

December 11, 2009

There’s a whole world of help out there that most of us never even knew existed (and rightfully so)!  Here is an organization that helps to keep things clean when all else is overwhelming.  So, if you know of someone going through chemo, may I recommend Cleaning For A Reason.

(Ignore) The Revised Guidelines

November 25, 2009

There have been abundant discussions about the recent and radical changes in the recommendations for screening breast cancer and I’d like to add my two cents.  First of all, I find it tremendously suspicious that these “unbiased” guidelines are coming out at the same time that the health care reform bill is gaining steam.  Secondly:

a) Mammograms are not perfect, but for now they are the best imaging tool in detecting breast cancer.  If you have NO known risk factors I believe that a base line test at 40 (not 50)  is still a good idea, and then once a year or once every two years is a good check-up time.  If there are any red flags in your history than obviously heed your doctor’s recommendations.

b) Even more importantly than mammograms are self exams (in my opinion) and the recent asinine comment that self exams offer little detection IS CRAZY MAKING!  It’s basic common sense; know your body and all of its parts and always watch for any changes!  My mammogram showed a false negative because the tumor was so close to my chest wall, so my knowledge of my own body was an important part for my early detection.  So, please do your monthly exams so at the very least you become familiar with all of the normal lumps and bumps!

Pass It On!

November 23, 2009

I’m very excited to announce a couple of positive improvements to my humble little blog!

First, it now has an official web address, so it’s easier to pass along to anyone you feel it might help:  http://www.megansbigadventure.com

Second, I added an in-depth section titled “Diagnosed!  Now What…” on the righthand side that speaks directly to anyone who has recently been diagnosed.  I tackle each topic explaining my own experiences and advice to others.

I’m very excited about these updates and it’s my hope that my experiences will help others!

The Nicest Essay Ever

November 17, 2009

I’ve received letters from loved ones to strangers and everyone in between, sharing how my stories have helped them, but this essay that I just received from my niece impacted me so much and left me practically speechless.  She is a beautiful, soccer-playing young lady in 8th grade and she chose to write about me.  I’m completely humbled and immensely honored. Thank you Hannah!  I love you too!

My Aunt Megan

My Aunt Megan is one of the most inspiring people I know. I love her so much. Unlike most people, she stayed strong and in good spirits during a horrible time.

My Aunt Megan is one of the best photographers I know. She usually photographs weddings, and she does a marvelous job. When I grow up, I want to be a photographer as well! So she is truly an inspiration to me. Sometime, I am hoping we can go take pictures together! Whenever I see her pictures, they give me goose bumps because they capture everything key in a picture, the emotions, the expressions on their faces, and why they love what they are doing in the picture.

I had noticed my parents hadn’t been talking about my Aunt Megan as much, and I just blew it off.  Then we were at Safeway, and she donated 5 dollars to the Breast Cancer treatment research. I just was thinking in my head, “that’s weird.. she never usually donates money to those kind of things.” But again, I just blew it off.  In October, 2009, about two days after my mom made the donation, my parents sat us down altogether. They said, ”Girls, your Aunt Megan has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.” I froze. I didn’t know what to think, do, or say. I just froze. My parents kept talking, and I just zoned out and didn’t listen. I had major flashbacks of when I was 5 and my Aunt Megan was taking pictures of my sisters and I and we were laughing, and when we were visiting and we were on a big log and she was taking pictures of us.  I couldn’t believe someone who meant this much to me, and who I look up to, had been diagnosed with such a horrible disease. I was shocked, terrified, miserable, and disoriented.

While my Aunt Megan was fighting Breast Cancer, she had to go through chemo therapy, which is a treatment where you have to lose all your hair, to make it less traumatizing, she cut her hair really short. She looks so gorgeous with barely any hair, and she doesn’t really mind.

It started out with just a little cancer, and they did one treatment, and then more, and more, and more. I didn’t really understand why she kept having treatments. But I guess they just wanted to make sure they got it all.

My Aunt Megan did the Avon Breast cancer walk which was 39.6 miles! When I heard she was doing it, I was so proud of my Aunt. She was raising money, and was going to walk every single mile. When I heard her stories, I was in awe.  It sounded like an amazing thing and an outstanding memory that she will cherish forever. She raised over 2,000 dollars!

Not only does my Aunt Megan share the exact same interests as me, but she is a fabulous role model. I love my Aunt Megan to death, and I hope to be a photographer just like her when I grow up.

~*Hannah*~

Look Who’s Getting Fancy

October 22, 2009

I have two exciting items to share with you.

1) With October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, my email inbox has grown busier lately with people reaching out to me either with a friend just diagnosed or a diagnosis for themselves and it pulls on my heart strings every time, so I decided it was time to step up my blog a notch and give it a better web address so it’s easier to share and possibly help others.  So now when you want to tell a friend about my blog you can tell them to go to http://www.megansbigadventure.com.  For those paying attention, the wordpress portion has been omitted from the address, but it still takes you to the same spot.  I told you… I was getting fancy!

2) And now for my big news which I’ve been waiting to tell you, but had to take care of all of the official business first…I have teamed up with Pink Initiative, an amazing organization filled with wedding professionals who are joining forces with local and national organizations to make a difference in the cancer community.  Pink Initiative came to my attention through ThinkSplendid.com (a blog that I read regularly) and I thought it was an interesting cause so I sent the founder a quick email with my well-wishes.

After a couple of wonderful conversations over the phone (she’s in Maine), I was invited to take their last lone seat on the Board of Directors!  It’s a great honor for many reasons!  1) I feel I can give a fresh perspective because of my previous diagnosis, 2) I have a very large extended family in the wedding industry so I know I can help spread the word on the West Coast and 3) The other board members are talented professionals all with successful backgrounds, so it’s immensely flattering to be aligned with such stellar people who are stepping out and making a difference.

Picture 1

One Year Ago…

September 30, 2009

It was exactly one year ago today, September 30, 2008 that I experienced a full-fledged miracle, and God literally saved my life!

At the time, the morning appeared to be like any other morning, yet it took me many weeks of reflection to realize the significance of what I had experienced and how the chain of events all came together so amazingly.  Mike awoke panicked that he had felt a lump in my breast while we slept, a lump that we later learned was 100% physically impossible for him to have felt; a tiny lump smaller than a pea buried deep under tissue; a lump that my OB/GYN doctor pretty much discounted (but still ran a test); a lump that the mammogram could not detect because it was too close to my ribs; a lump that made every surgeon, radiologist and oncologist shake their heads in disbelief that it could have been detected; a lump that would have gone unnoticed for several more years…precious life-saving years.

Before this, I believed in God.  Kind of.  I really, really wanted to but I’m human and it’s difficult to believe in something that you cannot see or touch, especially since I wasn’t raised with any spirituality and my faith is somewhat new.  And besides there are hundred of weirdos out there misrepresenting Him and screwing it all up; turning religion into a greedy business, twisting words into false ideology and enforcing ridiculous rituals.  That’s all hooey!  It’s just a simple, loving relationship that is to be honored.

Yet despite Mike’s certainty that he felt a lump, he agrees that it was impossible, and we both believe that God placed this detection on Mike’s heart and mind.  It’s the only explanation.  I also believe that healing miracles happen on a daily basis, so I’ve asked myself, if God can “tell” Mike about my cancer, why didn’t He just make it go away.  I’ve thought about this a lot and have concluded that He wanted me to experience this struggle, to make me stronger, wiser and perhaps so that I could share my experiences with others.  I feel honored.

I’ve been wanting to share this story with you for two important reasons.  1) I know many of my blog followers are not believers in God, and I’m personally asking you to give Him serious thought because He has been an amazing addition to my life.  It’s ok to relinquish a little.  It’s ok to believe in something that might be unexplainable.  2) Despite my detection being of the divine nature, I still did somewhat regular self exams and this was a key part in me following through with Mike’s concern.  After his insistence, I poked and prodded for a couple days and I did feel something that I had not felt before, so my conviction along with all of the other chain of events pushed my tests through until they had a conclusive result.  So the lesson here is, believe in God because He is good and feel your boobies on a regular basis!!

And while you’re at it, have your teeth cleaned every 6 months, do all of those annual exams you’re supposed to and just take good care of yourself!  You have your car maintained and your house repaired…well your body is that much more complex and it needs quality nourishment and tuneups just like everything else.  That’s all I have to say about that so I’ll step off my soapbox now.

meg_small

The Chemo Curls

September 15, 2009

You may have already heard about this little known fact; many times the hair of a chemo patient comes back curly; like a bad perm on Greg or Mr. Brady kind-of-curly, and that is what is happening with my hair.  Each day it grows a touch longer, and after each shower, it curls just a tiny bit more, and I stand in front of the mirror doing my darndest to smooth it out.

Brady Bunch television show

There’s still a question of whether it will eventually straighten over time, some say it will and some say it won’t.  And if it does begin to straighten back to the way it was, the jury is still out on how many months it will take to grow in straight, and why this phenomenon even happens in the first place.  All I know is that there are a lot of curly-haired women in my post BC group!

Of course, having had a time in my life where I had NO hair, this is of course a 1,000 times better so I’m doing my best to not complain, especially since many around me absolutely adore the curls, however I can’t help but think that I’m on the path to look like Baby New Year in about a month, sans the big ears.

baby_new_year

Hey, Batter, Batter, Batter!

September 6, 2009

Using the term “perk” might not be the choicest word, however I take advantage of as many of the “had cancer perks” whenever I can, and last night was a great example!

For the last eleven years The Oakland A’s have honored breast cancer survivors by hosting a special game day, which included a pre-game snack fest, a raffle, a commemorative pink A’s jersey, a pink pashmina with a rhinestone A’s logo and two free tickets for the game.  Oh yea, and the grand poo-bah of it all was that the survivors got to walk onto the field for a special recognition ceremony!  It was AWESOME, not so much for the recognition, but for the opportunity to walk onto the field!!  I was with a small group of gals that I met through Young Survival Coalition and we were like little school girls, snickering and waving at the players warming up for the game right next to us.

Here we are in the breezeway waiting to go onto the field.

a's waiting

On the field.

a's field

We formed a giant pink ribbon.

a's on field

me on field

a's players

Here we are in our seats after the opening ceremony.

us at a's _2

us at a's

And then if all of it wasn’t enough, the A’s spokeswoman came over to our group and asked if she could do a live interview with us, discussing a texting promo they wanted to highlight on the big megatron tv-thing.  Mike got a quick snap of her and the cameraman as they were interviewing the gal in front of us before we went on camera and had our small speaking part.

a's on camera

How are those withdrawls?

August 20, 2009

If the Megan-Blog-Withdrawals are getting bad and you want the twitching-shakes and nervous-ticks to stop, I suggest you come visit me on my other blog; my photography blog.  It’s not as witty and jaded as this, but it has lots of pretty photos and you can see what I’ve been up to since I said goodbye to my cancer treatments once and for all.

So, click on the above link, sign up for the email updates or RSS feed and be one of the cool ones!  At the very least, next time you’re at a cocktail party, you can brag to a tipsy party-goer that you follow a few blogs to keep up with world events (Sonoma is part of the world so it’s not that much of a stretch) and that someday RSS will be so passé.  You can say this even if you don’t know what it means because the other person won’t know either and it will make you look really smart.

Cheers!

My blog is now a book!

August 13, 2009

I’m one of those types that still likes to have a hard-copy just in case the Internet implodes or something, so I turned my blog into a book thanks to Blurb!  My two copies arrived today, and I practically hugged the FedEx driver when he walked up because I’ve been so excited about this.  I spent days upon days editing the layout into a book form and it looks pretty darn good.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them; Mike asked me that question and I didn’t have a very good answer.  “Put it on the bookshelf.” is all I could come up with, but who knows.  Maybe it’s the first start to having my story “published” – I know that would make Saundra very happy!  🙂

So, here it is. Megan’s Big Adventure, Volume 1.

book