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Cancerversary Season

On February 7, 2014, I had nonchalantly waltzed into my diagnostic imaging center for my regular screening mammogram. As usual, I admired the waiting room mural that let me figuratively gaze out to sea from a wooden porch. For the most part I ignored the TV mounted high in a corner, which dispensed "local" news focused mainly on counties south of mine.

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Cancer Lens

My oncologist gave me the good news on Tuesday: my PET scan last week showed no sign of cancer. He said the front desk could print me out a copy of the report. I told him that I had already downloaded my copy from See Your Chart, the patient access portal used by my cancer center.

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Creativity Heals

I was at my radiation facility (RBOI) on Monday -- not for treatment, because I had finished active treatment last month. Not for a support group meeting, though this visit was related.

I was there for a photo shoot, several days after I had gone there to be interviewed by Citrus County Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy. The support group I am facilitating, "Creativity Heals," held its inaugural meeting on Thursday afternoon. I had a PET scan (across the county road, at my chemo facility) that morning.

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Traveling to Mars

I recently learned about a clinical trial via Alicia Staley (@stales), one of the moderators at breast cancer social media (#bcsm). The trial, focused on hormone-positive breast cancer, will evaluate whether a study drug combined with hormonal therapy has better outcomes than hormonal therapy alone.

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Seven Minutes (and other miscellany)

On Tuesday (and on the next three days) I did a basic plank for three minutes and side planks for two minutes each -- to "Eitheror" by Little People, chopped up into timed clips so that I wouldn't have to look at the clock.

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Disclosures

"While I viewed these mountains [the Rockies] I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in them, it in some way counterballanced the joy I had felt in the first few moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road untill I am compelled to beleive differently." -- M

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Bare Headed Lady

The days and weeks following the end of active treatment fill with mini-celebrations of the type one might otherwise take for granted. Shaving my chin hairs with a safety razor again. Switching from extra-soft toothbrush back to soft toothbrush. Being able to resume sleeping on my stomach without discomfort.

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2014 in Review: Courage

(My friend K gifted me with this mug before my lumpectomy.)

"Courage" is a term that gets bandied about a lot in connection with cancer, so here's my take on it. I keep a handwritten journal in addition to blogging. The journal contains what I call my "raw data" -- myriad snippets ranging from dreams to To Do lists to rants. What follows are excerpts from last year on and around the topic.

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Gifts

Every day has been (and will continue to be) "Christmas" for me. Instead of the child who runs in pajamas to look beneath the tree for presents, I get out of bed (slowly, still a bit cautious about vertigo), head to the bathroom to meet immediate needs, and then rush the two feet or so to the mirror over the sink to see if more hair follicles have awakened and yawned upward from my scalp. Each new growth is a little gift with my name on it, left quietly while I slept for me to discover in the morning.

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Healing

In short, I am amazed.

My breast still looks burned, especially where I got my boost radiation, but it looks worse than it feels. Five days after my last treatment, the blistered skin on my areola fell off to reveal brand new, unburnt skin underneath. Before and after pictures here.

My other blistered site (on the underside of my breast) had been my main source of pain, which I ranked a level 3 out of 10 at most. Usually it got no higher than a 2. By December 10 that pain had disappeared.

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