A Puff of Absurdity: Prevention as an Ounce of Cure

Here’s an update on what I’ve learned about lymphedema after an ALND. It’s way less scary now that I know how to manage it, but it’s still a drag. It takes about an hour away from me every day. I’m just in the earliest stages, and it possible to stay here forever, but not without ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Chest Tattoo with a Side of Lymphedema

As a means of healing and prettying up my mastectomy scars, I looked forward to a chest tattoo. I envisioned never wearing a bathing suit top again! After my mastectomy, I asked my surgeon about it. His only concern was that it wouldn’t look good when I finally gave in and got reconstruction. But, if ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Regret

I’ve taken many questionable risks in my life. I lean toward leading a life that’s lived fully over a safe and secure existence. Most I bounced back from easily from typical childhood falling from trees when I’ve climbed too high to dropping out of high school and somehow ending up with a Masters. Sometimes it’s ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On the Year that Kicked My Ass, and That Time My Ass Kicked Back

Well, it’s starting to kick back, ever so slowly. I went on another Wild Women adventure, this time to Georgian Bay to try my hand at kayaking for a change. I was with a whole new group of women, our ages spanning three decades and from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds (and photographic ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Lymphedema: A Research Study Overview

I’m cancer free, but very anxious about lymphedema. It’s become a bit of an obsession, so, for anyone googling it, here are all the studies that I really should have researched before consenting to the Axilliary Lymph Node Dissection (ALND) surgery that half my doctors told me I didn’t need, and the other half convinced ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Taking Comfort in Stoicism

When thing take a turn for the worst, no philosophy helps me like re-reading the writings of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. I had a dream last night that I was at a bike show (about bicycles, not motorcycles), talking to a distance rider, when, after a long conversation, I noticed that his one arm ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Another Trip to ER

Me: So, I have letter from my doctor. I was hoping that would make things go faster. It still took two full hours to get to this point, though. Triage Nurse: I wish family doctors would come to the hospital once in a while. They have no idea how things work here. A letter doesn’t ...

A Puff of Absurdity: More Doctors and Nurses, Less Waiting

I went to the CCAC yesterday after my surgery on Tuesday – the Community Care Access Centre – an agency I only heard about when they had a local whistleblowing scandal a couple years ago questioning the decision to reduce case managers instead of front line therapists, and then more recently, when they spent money to send ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Another Surgery Down

I feel like a pro at getting surgery now. That’s probably not a good thing. It occurred to me it’s kind of like travelling. The first time in an airport is a bit terrifying. It’s confusing and chaotic and nothing seems to make sense. Then after a few times, you learn the drill and get ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Becoming a Woman – Mid-Life Edition

When I was around ten to fourteen, we were all inundated with information about our bodies – all the ins and outs of the magical, wondrous things that were just around the corner for us. It happened at school, but it was also the purview of some of the After School Specials that everyone watched, intrigued, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Becoming a Woman – Mid-Life Edition

When I was around ten to fourteen, we were all inundated with information about our bodies – all the ins and outs of the magical, wondrous things that were just around the corner for us. It happened at school, but it was also the purview of some of the After School Specials that everyone watched, intrigued, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Crazy-Making Cancer Treatment

I believe my doctors mean well, I really do, but their behaviour is not dissimilar from the crazy-making type of abuse wherein the abuser keeps telling a different story until the victim starts to question their own memory and doesn’t know what to believe any more. I’m really glad I write everything down (and tape record ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Crazy-Making Cancer Treatment

I believe my doctors mean well, I really do, but their behaviour is not dissimilar from the crazy-making type of abuse wherein the abuser keeps telling a different story until the victim starts to question their own memory and doesn’t know what to believe any more. I’m really glad I write everything down (and tape record ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Cancer Doulas

When last we left our heroine, she had just had an invasive tumour removed, but found out there could be traces of cancer left behind. She was left to choose between surgery, radiation, tamoxifen, or nothing. Let’s see what she does next… I had never heard of Healthcare Navigators before, and it seems they don’t ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Cancer Doulas

I had never heard of Healthcare Navigators before, and it seems they don’t exist as much in Canada as they do in the more expensive and privatized healthcare to the south (except for Indigenous needs), but they’re becoming more of a thing here. In Ontario, some hospitals have them, and we’re apparently leading the way to ...

A Puff of Absurdity: And the Saga Continues

Ok, so, after getting a preventative bi-lateral mastectomy, performed shortly after both a mammogram and MRI both showed zero cancer, of course they found cancer in the breast tissue sent to the lab. The good news is it’s all out, but… They found two non-invasive tumours about a centimetre each. The surgeon isn’t worried about that ...

A Puff of Absurdity: And the Saga Continues

Ok, so, after getting a preventative bi-lateral mastectomy, performed shortly after both a mammogram and MRI both showed zero cancer, of course they found cancer in the breast tissue sent to the lab. The good news is it’s all out, but… They found two non-invasive tumours about a centimetre each. The surgeon isn’t worried about that ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Back to Work Boobless

I’m really glad I decided to go back to work part time for a week. I highly recommend that path for anyone getting this surgery. I thought I’d be completely fine the first day, but I underestimated my level of exhaustion. Being home by noon was a godsend. Some people online recommend SIX weeks off. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: A Genius Kvetching Ring

An article, three years old, was in my facebook feed today. But it was insanely timely. It’s a little lifestyle piece about how to talk to people who are sick or experiencing trauma. It’s just plain common sense, but it needs to be circulated regardless!  The idea was illustrated thusly: Beautifully illustrated by Wes Bausmith ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Missing the Girls

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen  (Everyone’s using that bit today, but they always skip the first part of the verse.) As I started down the road towards mastectomy-ville, I wondered how weird it would feel ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Character

Now that I’ve sufficiently survived surgery physically, the psychological stuff is creeping in. Creeping is apropos. People keep telling me I’m so brave or so strong to go through it all and then to be up and at ’em so soon after. But I just happened to survive. There was nothing brave about it. I ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Preventing Ovarian Cancer Program Logistics

I went down the road to genetic testing all because of a link I noticed on facebook in early May 2015 – just before my 50th birthday, from the POCP. It said that anyone could get free genetic testing to test for cancer if they have a close relative who had ovarian cancer. So I ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Now I’m Trendy, Dammit

The NY Times published a piece last night:“‘Going flat’ after breast cancer,” about the nascent movement towards openly having a boobless chest. And here I thought I was doing something courageously original!  Turns out I’m just an early adopter, not an innovator. When I first found out I needed a double mastectomy, I searched online ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Just a Flesh Wound

This is a figuring kind of post wherein I try to make sense of it all. I have all sorts of thoughts about breasts now. I had to get the dressing changed today, so I got a glimpse of myself for the first time. The nurse at the CCAC was wonderful. She taught me to ...

A Puff of Absurdity: One of the Lucky Few?

I’ve been reading other blogs about mastectomies, and the level of pain described makes me feel like someone’s made a huge mistake, and they’ll take off all the bandages to find they forgot to remove my breasts! I’m experiencing zero chest pain. I could be taking up to 12 pain pills a day, but I’m ...