Loving these summer months!

Last week I had a check-up with my oncologist, Dr. O’Regan.  In defiance of ever being sickly, I wore a bright dress and new shoes.  After I had blood drawn, Dr. O’Regan did a physical exam, complimented my shoes and sent me on my way.

More good news – I taught 2 Zumba classes (subbing for other instructors) and my boobs didn’t fall off!  Seriously, the right implant feels like it will drop onto the floor at any moment.  So I wear a bra, all of the time.  I’m still hoping it’s just a sensation I’ll get used to, but I suspect I’ll be back in the operating room eventually.

In the meantime, we’re off on another fabulous Yates Family Adventure!

Friday, we fly to Portland, Oregon, to visit family.  We’ll spend a couple of nights in downtown Portland before flying to Bozeman, Montana on Sunday.

Early Monday we join Western Spirit Cycling and another family (whom we don’t know) for 5 days of biking and camping.  We’ll ride across the Gravelly Range (mountains northwest of Yellowstone) into the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and, by Thursday, into Yellowstone National Park.  Back in Bozeman Friday night.

This will be my 3rd Western Spirit trip (our 2nd as a family).  The first two were fabulous, so we have high expectations – physical activity, nothing but fresh air, awesome scenery and expert guides who make it a vacation as well as an adventure!

Joey and I can’t wait to see that part of the country and get recharged.  The kids have been wearing their headlamps for days.

We’ll fly home to Atlanta Saturday, 8/2.  Then we meet the kids’ teachers on Monday and school starts Wednesday.

Enjoy the rest of your summer – we will!

Nicole

Run Your Own Race

This past 4th of July I ran my first Peachtree Road Race.

I was SO happy to be there.

I almost didn’t go because I hadn’t trained properly.  Sure, I’d had surgery the month before and couldn’t do much.  But, frankly, I didn’t do anything.

Instead, I sat on my butt and whined about the things I couldn’t do.  I spent too much time on Facebook begrudging working Zumba instructors and friends who posted about their BRFs, PRs and WODs.  It was ugly and my negativity made for some unusually blah days around here.

I went to the race, anyway.  1 of 60,000.

The overcast skies were a blessing for those of us who hadn’t trained in the heat.  The huge flag at the start was awesome and I was startled by how grateful I felt to be American.  I thought about my cousins Brett and Mike, and my grandfather, and every other soldier who has ever braved real fireworks on behalf of the rest of us.

The start of the M wave (M for “mosey”) was kind of anticlimatic, but running through Buckhead was like a slideshow of my early twenties.  Then I passed Piedmont Hospital where I left both of my breasts and the last of my cancer.  Next was Midtown where I restarted my advertising career and finally grew comfortable in my own skin (age 27, give or take).  Just in time to meet my husband…

Who was waiting for me at Piedmont Park.

Truth be told, I didn’t run all of the race.  I even walked a few times, crossing the finish line in 1:16:08.  Not a time I’d gleefully post on Facebook.  Even so, the only disappointment of the day was the color of my first ever Peachtree shirt.

The lessons here?  Participate.  Run your own race.  And, smile when you see the cameras.

Nicole

After Mastectomy – Gift Ideas

I’ve given this list to a few people now, so wanted to provide it here.

  • Ibuprofen, for when prescription meds run out
  • Hydrocortisone creme (every surgery left me itchy)
  • Vitamin E lotion, which supposedly minimizes scarring, skin discoloration
  • Individual alcohol wipes for stripping drains, although hospital may provide plenty
  • Cleansing wipes, for armpits and other areas, when showering is restricted
  • Anything “healing,” like green tea – bags or loose tea and a strainer
  • “Healing gems” by Dogeared jewelry arrive in a sweet package
  • Any shirt, pajamas that open in front.  Or loose stretchy camisoles that are easy to get over her head.  Inexpensive, all-cotton from Target/Walmart works, as there may be blood stains initially.
  • A friend gave me Soma Cool Nights pajamas, and I’ve worn them after every surgery, and then some.
  • For another splurge, I love Barefoot Dreams Bamboo Chic Lite Wrap.
  • Andree’s Essential Soaps, Inc was started by a woman whose mom had cancer.
  • Whole Foods gift card
  • A wedge pillow is a must.  Try Bed, Bath & Beyond or Relax the Back.
  • A small, soft pillow, or a down pillow that can be squished with a soft case.  I used one in between my chest and the seatbelt, also to hold onto when I got out of bed, to remind me not to push up on my arms.  Also, under my arms (for awhile I actually used soft socks under there!) – my armpits got sticky and itchy from always being down, and from the drains.
  • Current magazines, a puzzle book, favorite DVD.  A movie gift card for when she’s ready for an outing.
  • A non-sweat water bottle to remind her to drink a lot of water
  • Food, as she won’t be able to shop or prepare anything for awhile.  Fruit baskets by Edible Arrangements were one of my favorites.  If she’s normally responsible for feeding her family, consider setting up an online Care Calendar and rallying friends to provide meals.  We also received coupons and complete meals from The Dinner A’Fare and Instead of Flowers. So helpful.
  • Arrange to meet her for short walks outside.  You think you can’t get up and about, and it’s hard to find the motivation sometimes, but it really does help.

Also, special belts and camisoles can be purchased to hold surgical drains.  I didn’t use those, though – a friend loaned me hand-made drain bags and shoelaces (to which I pinned my drains during showers).  As I became more mobile, I used a lightweight across-the-body purse to conceal and carry the drains.

If you have any additions, please provide them in the comments.  If it’s your first time commenting on this blog, your comment won’t be visible until I approve it.  Thank you!

Nicole