Tag Archives: nordstroms

Two Radiations and Four Pumpkins

I have so many words rattling around in my head that I can’t sleep. I guess that means I’m a bit of a writer now because as soon as I get this down I’m sure I’ll feel better. I have so much joy in my life – the kids are throwing up Halloween decorations willy nilly – with frantic interruptions from the nanny and I to be careful with that! Or don’t use the glow necklace NOW! We are deciding on costumes – Henry will be Darth Vader (again), Emmy wants to be a pirate princess (again) and Carter is deciding between Jengo Fett and an elephant. Don’t ask me.

But, it has been an immensely tiring week. The radiation is tiring not so much because of the light rays, but because it is a procedure – daily – that is uncomfortable. I have to have both hands over my head throughout. My left arm in particular doesn’t like that very much and it’s tight and sore and yet I have to hold it for 20 minutes. Machines whirr and click around me – x rays, the radiation machine. The techs talk to me, but all I can do is grunt a reply because I am concentrating on not moving, not curling my arm into a ball and assuming the fetal position. I am naked on my top half – exposed – as usual. I know that with each day I grow closer to the end. After today I am down to 31 more.

Every working day at 10am I drive to my appointment for the next six weeks. Before that, I will have strapped on my new beautiful comfortable and realistic “forms” from Nordstrom.

In what had to be an incredibly awkward adn hilarious moment, Davis walked in on me having the nanny feel my new ladies. He declined the offer to be next (“maybe later” he said). I brushed beside him in our bathroom on purpose and then he had his turn. How does it feel to me? Weird, funny, but ultimately, I can’t feel.

Because I was so tired today I wore my power outfit. As if I would go do something important and athletic. My Gap Body yoga pants, my Gap body short sleeved sweatshirt in pink, and my new shirt from my friend Dara: “This survivor kicked cancer’s butt”

Somehow that helped me get the twins to school, make my requisite Target run, get radiation, then plan for the creation of four pumpkins for Fall Fest

Making this in black:

Halloween Pumkins

Kids in Carter’s class making these owls: Amelie's House: HOLIDAY PROJECTS 3. Hooty owls with Halloween flavor.

And making this pumpkin with glow in the dark paint. Haven’t decided orange or black.

love the white& black for Halloween..


Maybe after all of the other work I did today, it should be pink.

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Two steps forward, thirteen new questions

It’s a two week milestone today – two weeks from my bilateral mastectomy for those of you new to the story. Seven months from the mammogram that changed the move to Dubai into a stay and fight … and a week from the cancer free report card.

Today I did 15 things. OK, maybe it was 10 or maybe it was 18, but it was a lot – some seemingly incongruous with normal life (aka buying boobs at Nordstrom’s with my Mom) and some totally normal (grabbing breakfast on the run) and some totally normal but in this new normal somehow special (driving around the block by myself). But the important thing is that it was a list – a big list – and it all happened today. There was a time not that long ago where I dared myself to do one thing a day. To make one extra phone call, to write a blog post, to do just one thing outside of the pure process of living and healing and surviving. How fast things can change.

The oddities start piling up at this stage in the game as well – I am healthy looking and so most people I meet will no doubt believe I purposely chose this haircut, that I look this way physically. Oh how I wish I could tell them.

I have conversations I never thought I would have – just tonight, with my Mom and my husband we had a conversation about when I should put my boobs on in the morning. At Nordstrom’s today, I got my new “forms” – I have a pair for regular use (that sit inside of pockets sewn into my bras) and a swim pair (lighter weight, and able to withstand chlorine – for the Disney cruise and the last few days of summer). The swim forms were a splurge – can you believe that’s what I now call a splurge? But a girls gotta have girls on a cruise.

We showed off my forms – Davis, my Mom, the nanny – they are fascinating (ask if you want to peek). The amount of engineering – lifelike, yet clearly imitation. With wicking components, multiple angles, and yes, even a nipple. They are not real, but they are darn close. In fact, by the end of the day my back hurt – was it from the new weight adjustment?

Anyhow, back to this conversation -about when I need to put on my boobs – and I’m curious about other Moms out there. Clearly, I am not a sight for preschool eyes. unclothed. It’s not like I was parading around naked before, but occasionally Emmy would dress me. Now I have a reluctance to even get out of bed when she’s around in the morning – and she always is – hugging me, loving me. In this totally odd conversation, we decided that as long as no one sees me without my shirt on we should be OK. It’s only six months.

Those of you who think I am brave consider this – each day I grow stronger. I think of putting on my bathrobe each night after these glorious showers and the effort it takes and how it gets easier each day. I think of men and women for whom things get harder each day, and yet they keep pushing ahead. I am reading about WWII and am thinking about the sacrifices so many made for us – for our lives – and how people still do. I think that is bravery. I am just dealing with the hand I was dealt.

In the motherhood column, we are working hard on the settling in of routines – Carter cried when I dropped him off today great big gulping blue eyes brimming. His teacher emailed that within minutes he was fine. Henry is pleased as punch with his teacher’s record card system – each good day we put the card in a jar on the table. What he wanted most for his birthday was unveiled today – a rolling office chair for his room with up and down. They spent two hours putting it together and testing it out. I got it at Costco for $60 and it’s red vinyl and he thinks it’s manna from heaven. Next year he might ask for a cubicle. Emmy drew a diagram of the chair with actual anatomical detail and arrows indicating all its features.

I stand in wonder of my children, of our journey, but most of all of our help. I sit in jammies donated by my friend Sara (they are just TOO stinking cute I hear her say. We enjoyed a meal brought by a Doss family, and accepted a bottle of wine from our new neighbors. I look at my new earrings and think of my friend Jessica, my card today in the mail and think of my sister-in-law.

What you don’t know is that with each act you have given me strength. I will pass it along. Maybe tomorrow – I probably have at least 16 things I can do.


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Another Reason to Love Nordstrom’s

I have had assistance in unexpected places the past few weeks. In addition to friends, family, doctors and awesomely supportive survivors there have been two unusual standouts – my insurance and Nordstrom’s.

First, Aetna. We grumble greatly about health care in America – in truth it is more of a “sick care” system that we all must endure when we are unhealthy, already in the weeds. I have experienced what life would be like with a preventative element – a caring, supportive system that would see you through your goals and assist you when you did touch your toe into the medical arena.

Aetna has provided me with a case manager – a former oncology nurse who calls me each week to check on my progress, assist me with any questions I might have, tell me where I should ask more questions, and let me know how to navigate these uncharted waters. I know to them in some ways I am a sudden aberration in their data – spiking high costs of chemo and procedures. But their response has been compassionate, helpful, and effective. And for that, I thank Aetna.

It was my case manager, Mary Anne, who first brought Nordtrom’s to my attention. Clearly, growing up in San Francisco, I need no introduction. In fact, my girl scout troop did inventory to make extra money. I participated in a fashion show for Brass Plum … and my first prom dress was from the same department. I well remember “my store” as well as the flagship downtown with the circular escalators.

I learned during motherhood of their first commitment to service above and beyond – they measure your children’s feet exactly, assist in special sizing, and of course have the fabulous return policy ( no questions asked, whenever).  When I made my first voyage to a store with Henry in tow I learned of their commitment to nursing mothers – a complete room with comfortable chairs and a special changing station.

Imagine my surprise when Aetna tells me that Nordstrom’s is where I need to shop now – in my time of need, transition, and uncertainty. Mr. Nordstrom’s Mom had breast cancer you see, and ever after has remained vigilant in providing a smooth, supportive environment for supporting survivors. They have special staff members who have been trained in prosthesis and orthodics. They measure you individually for the compression garment post operation, and then will specially fit you for your prosthesis – two little chicken patties that come in a variety of sizes, perkiness, and function.

There are special ones for swimming I learned (you don’t want them to float up and ride on the water) and there are some especially designed for hot weather that have bumps on the side that face skin to allow air movement.

Nordstrom’s will also sew pockets into any garment that you buy there for your ladies to hang out. No charge. The ladies and the garment were covered by insurance.

The assistant was so caring, the fitting was so enjoyable and fun that I went and bought some sassy shoes – red is the hot color and I know have ankle boots. The women in shoes thought I had a purposeful Pat Benatar haircut which is quite stylish. I’m not sold but I did buy the shoes.

Is it weird that I look forward to my follow up visit? There might be some serious shopping.

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