It's because of the woman in the attached video, that I am here today.
I wept with the rest of the audience as she stood with her family on that stage at The Hooters Swimsuit Pageant one summer, not too long ago…delivering a message so tragic, that the hundreds seated in the theater had ceased to breathe. When she concluded…we all took a huge gasp of air and quite a few huge gulps of quite a few huge beers. I was rendered stunned for a while…a vice grip on a melting wad of dripping tissues that had just been used to sop up the most epically torrential black waterfall of mascara and eyeliner from my face. 

That very night, I began my monthly self breast exams…no hesitation...better safe than sorry, right? But all in all, "It was business as usual" for me over the weeks, months and couple of years that followed her jarring, passionate, tear stained monologue. I felt beyond awful for her and her family…and mourned her passing when she finally did succumb to her disease...but nothing else had changed for me, really…other than being grateful to her for bringing it to my attention that women under the age of 40 do get breast cancer. Because of her, I had become a very good girl and was diligent about getting my annual mammograms…I even requested a random ultrasound here and there for good measure. Be assured, I was extra, extra "aware". 

Then one dark day…years later…my stomach hit the floor when I felt a small (smooth and moveable) lump in my left breast…but, I didn't get it checked out for a couple months. Dr. Google said that there was no way this thing was cancer. Cancer doesn't move. Cancer is hard as a pebble. Cancer is jagged-y feeling. Cancer would have shown up on the mammogram I had just had 8 months ago…besides, it was the Holidays. Hell…even a government advisory panel had declared that women like me shouldn't worry. Sooooo, I forcibly quelled my hypochondria and didn't want to be bothered with panic. 

Once I finally hauled my not-too-worried, procrastinating ass in to my Doctor's office to get the thing checked out, she exclaimed happily that she "wasn't too worried" either, "since my slight family history of 1 ovarian and 2 breast cancers were all in older women on my father's side". "It doesn't feel like cancer", she went on to say…and, I was "too young", but "to expect even more harmless lumpiness as I age". I was told to "just keep an eye on it". 

Then, as abruptly as a speeding vehicle slamming in to a brick wall, my world stopped. Wide eyed, my brain…and my heart…lunged back to the time when I was sitting in that audience in Las Vegas listening to Kelly Jo. Her voice came at me like a Mack Truck...loudly pleading in my head to be my own advocate, and to push for tests and scans... The very tests and scans which would ultimately lead to a diagnosis. (Drum roll, please)
At the age of 39...I had within me a malignant tumor…a rare, extremely aggressive, fast growing, often deadly subtype of breast cancer known as "BRCA1+ Triple Negative Breast Cancer". 

Now…4 years and 7-ish months later…I am what we lovingly call in the cancer world... "Dancing with NED". Which means that, as of right now…there is "No Evidence of Disease". Hopefully, I managed to dodge the proverbial bullet…but, it's way too soon to know. What I do know is…and I will say it again…it's because of Kelly Jo Dowd (and because of Hooters) that I am here today. Please watch and share her message. It's a really, REALLY important one <3

Kelly Jo Dowd, Hooters and The V Foundation


A detour from the (up to this point) chronological flow of events

If I might interject here...yes...right here..smack dab in the middle of act one's cliffhanger...ruining the smooth transitions from one blog post to another. Upsetting the compelling flow of such an entertaining tale...(yeah right).
I mean, you're probably chomping at the bit to hear about all of the pre and post surgery drama? How about the chemo crazies? And the new boobs! (I hear they're spectacular) Oh! Oh! And the all important hysterectomy (rounding out 2010 on a high note, of course).
Easy there, my eager beavers! If you haven't already noticed...


But when I do...I'll be back.

And, thank you for reading my blog...or whatever you wanna call this.
I do hope that my random ramblings, links, photos and "self absorbed" walks down my "memory lane" have helped somebody out there. At the very least, I hope you found something to be even a tiny bit entertaining, educational, or motivational :)


I Love Big Foobs and I Cannot Lie...

March 1, 2010 (part two...or...two soon-to-be-amazing "parts" ;)

I cannot tell a lie...I love big "foobies" (fake boobies). I have always been a huge admirer of them...and working for Hooters, I saw (and poked at) more than my fair share. There were hard ones, squishy ones and super perky ones...far apart ones, close together ones and dangly ones. There were foobs the size of softballs, cantaloupes, soccer balls, watermelons and giant blow up beach balls. And then there were those masterpieces of faux excellence...the lovely, realistic, silicone, under-the-muscle, teardrop style breast perfections that had become my most favorite of the implant varieties.


Introvert Problem #84

March 1, 2010 (part one…)

There's nothing quite like a breast cancer diagnosis to make you feel like you're guest starring in a "Scared Straight" reality show...only, this program didn't offer the yummy excitement of craft services and luxury accommodations. If that would've been the case, I could have at least whispered to you that I giggled a little bit from the tickle of the mic cord being dropped inside my shirt. Indeed, the show I was in had all the bright lights and the big cameras, but they were the giant beasts that lurked in the corners of the many stark exam rooms...and I was the nervous,  reluctant starlet...paralyzed with stage fright.


February 28, 2010

It was obvious that I had become obsessed with my new book collection. Over the course of a day and 1/2, I think I got up to go to the bathroom twice, ate next to nothing (which is unheard of) and...as the bags under my eyes professed...got much less than half a wink of shut eye. As far as my self imposed research was concerned, I probably bit off a lot more than I should have chewed that weekend.


To "send" or not to "send". That is the question...

I sat motionless, staring blurry-eyed through the computer screen as if it were a psychedelic, velvet, Magic Eye painting...but the only image I was seeing was the one of my life rushing by. My back had assumed the usual hunched-over-the-keyboard-posture. The weight of my head was supported by my left arm...elbow perched atop the desk, while my hand was squishing my left cheek up in to my temple. My right hand was on the mouse...the index finger was one quick click away from spewing the announcement of my disease out in to the universe.


Guess what everybody? I have cancer!

If I wasn't so religiously confused (a perfect phrase that I've adopted from a very perceptive friend ), I'd say that I was blessed. So, since I have no religious direction to speak of, but I am a devout believer in some things...like good old fashioned Karma, positive "Universal Energy", and (of course) knocking three times on a piece of wood... it must just mean that I'm lucky. I am actually very, very lucky to have a lot of friends...so many that I need all of my fingers and toes to count them on...and if my husband's feet were more attractive, I'd use his toes to count them on too.


Chasing After the Elusive Dr. Plastic

I was awake, but didn't want to get out of bed. I must've stared at the ceiling for a good 15 minutes...cuddled with my dog for another 15, before rolling over to stare at the wall for another 10. The stack of plastic surgeons' business cards greeted me on the nightstand next to my phone...laying to rest any  denial I had left of my new situation and pending mental, physical and emotional breakdown.


February 24, 2010

That morning came quick and early...I had no sooner booted my snoring husband out of bed, when my swollen eyes were blasted open by the screaming heavy metal exploding from my ipod. For a brief millisecond, the whole breast cancer thing seemed like a terrible nightmare...but reality rudely slapped me in the face when my apologetic husband timidly crept in to the bedroom to make sure I was getting up.