What is NOT Cancer 15

Wow. I haven’t done a “What is NOT Cancer” post since just before New Year’s. The end of chemo and a second surgery took more out of me than I realized. Too, too much has been all about cancer. But it’s spring now, and, bit by bit, I am starting to feel more like myself. So here are some not-cancer things:

Enjoying a delicious day in early February. California always serves up a few winter teasers: temperatures in the 70s, sparkling skies. Perfect for a hike and a picnic on the coast with kid and dog. Perfect for playing tourist on the Marin Headlands above the Golden Gate.

Making blue marshmallows for my daughter to take to her class for her birthday celebration. It takes four tries and makes a stunning mess, but we get it done. How is it that she’s 10 already?

Taking a shower and realizing that I need to SHAVE my legs! There’s a “witchy hair” on my chin that needs to be tweezed. If you’d told me a year ago that these things would be cause for celebration…

Watching my daughter and a classmate cavort with boogie boards on Stinson Beach. Can surfing be far behind?

Starting to garden again. Weeding the front yard. Marveling at the tenacity of dandelions and crabgrass. Moving silver nettles and ferns around in the back. Waiting for creeping thyme seeds to sprout and mail order plants to arrive.

Hiking to the top of the ridge at Ring Mountain for the first time since early December. Enjoying the wildflowers along the trail:

We tried, unsuccessfully, to grow CA poppies in Brooklyn. So nice to see them wild.

And the wild iris are nothing short of extravagant...

Losing the cat. Realizing family is hysterical and, though they won’t say so, reproving about my feeling that the “cat needs to be free” even though he won’t wear a collar. Blanketing nabe with 120 flyers during a downpour. Checking with Animal Control and seven vets. Welcoming cat home with open arms. Finding out he ALREADY has an implanted chip. Registering chip. Insisting cat wear collar and tag.

Getting a haircut for the first time in five months, and highlights for the first time in seven months. Two days later, a Breast Care Center intern told me I looked great and asked if I’d lost weight. Alas, no. But obviously, a new haircut spins its own magic!

Trying to accept daughter’s need to keep changing her hair color. We’re in a magenta period now. The green faded to blonde. Now, we are on to magenta!


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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7 Responses to What is NOT Cancer 15

  1. Alison Quoyeser says:

    Dear Heather,
    I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog because of your humor and honesty. I feel connected because I have just about the same diagnosis and treatment plan, my doctors are at UCSF, I’m also a participant in the Dignicap trial, I live close to you (in Mill Valley), and I teach 10 year olds at Ross School. You’re lucky to be done with the chemo. I just started the TCH last Friday. Ugh. Thank you for keeping this blog for people like me to read. You’re a great fighter! I would love to meet you some day.
    Alison Q

    • leftbreast says:

      Thanks so much for reading. TCH is a drag, but not as bad as Adriamycin! I’d love to have coffee with you someday. Does that sound do-able? I usually drop my daughter at Marin Montessori at about 8:15. Are you working through chemo? I can’t imagine how people do that!

  2. not cancer blog…always great!

  3. Alison Quoyeser says:

    Hi, Heather. I feel like a celebrity has answered me! Thanks! I’d love to have coffee (if my taste buds will accept that…otherwise, tea) next week if you are free. I have Spring Break. I’ve had a substitute until today, and I’m to go back to school tomorrow, but I don’t really feel like doing so. I’ve been in denial about the chemo. Looking at that clear drip, I thought, “Awww, that won’t bother me. I’ll just power through it.” Yeah. Famous last words. Alison (aaquoyeser@aol.com)
    PS Glad you found your kitty! Glad you’ve got highlights!

    • leftbreast says:

      Sorry to take so long to reply. How is this week looking? How are you feeling?

      • Alison Quoyeser says:

        Hi, Heather. Since Saturday I’ve been feeling better and better, thank you. Yesterday I worked out pretty much like usual at my club, Elan. Are you up for coffee or tea tomorrow morning? From 12 to 5 I’m going to a Coping with Fatigue workshop at UCSF. We can meet anywhere between San Rafael and Sausalito. Does your daughter go to school tomorrow? Yours, Alison

  4. Catherine says:

    Dear Heather,
    I’m so glad you’re feeling better–and love that you got a haircut and highlights! I was still wearing a wig 4 MONTHS after the last chemo tx. I think my first time in public without it was Easter Day at Grace, 2008, and I still looked like I’d just had a crew cut. Dignicap rules!

    Enjoy spring! We have one little tree on our street that has just turned spring green–hallelujah!

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