Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Garden Tub

There are some things that happen throughout my day that can be quite entertaining, at least to me anyway.

Yesterday, I had one of those events worthy to share.

I have 2 cats, Tigger & Bogie.  13 year old sisters.  Needless to say, they are accustomed to routines.  One of them is to have a little dinner time treat of canned food.  This little treat has some "happy" meds mixed into Bogie's share, as she can be nervous nelly.  I often deliver this treat to them in the garden tub.  We have both their beds in it.  That's what garden tubs are for.  Cat people will understand... right?

I prepared their plates, and headed into the bathroom.  Bogie was already in her bed meowing for me to hurry up. Tigger was racing into the bathroom, meowing to not be forgotten. Tigger jumped up on the tub edge and then down onto her bed, which happens to be located right under the spigot.  Obviously, the word spigot may be leading into the story.

I had Bogie's plate in my left hand, and the other plate balancing on my right fingers.  Those of you who are close to me, know that my right hand shouldn't be balancing anything.  Those who don't know me that well, my right arm/hand is extremely weak and lacks coordination.  Additionally, I don't have sensory feeling.

Placing the plates, for 13 year olds who have had their dominance established at birth, has a bit of a sequence to follow.  Tigger is the Alpha sister, so I placed her's first, and then quickly placed Bogie's on her respective bed.

As I placed Bogie's, I heard the sound of water flowing into the spigot at a rapid rate.  Before I could even establish its source, that water landed on Tigger's back full force.  It was like a delayed reaction.  She belted out a very unhappy cat like noise and bolted out of the tub.  The water is now splashing hard on her plate, food and water flying everywhere.  Bogie being right next to this event, reared up her back, every hair standing on end, tail 3 times bigger than normal, eyes as big as marbles, made a louder unhappy cat screech, leaped over me and out of the bathroom.  Now, this all happened within a couple seconds.  It took me a few more seconds to figure out which faucet was on.  They aren't the type you have to spin, instead they push/pull to turn off/on.  I obviously don't use the garden tub, since it is commandeered by the queens, so I wasn't sure which way was off.  I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right the first time.  Not so much.  So before I could get it to stop, I got it to flow faster.  SIGH........

After I got my own wits about me, and dried off my face and arms, I laughed and went back into the kitchen with the one empty plate and the other untouched plate.  Bogie was hiding, and Tigger was in the corner of the doorway, frantically licking the water off her body.  She stopped long enough to look up at me with squinted eyes and ears pushed out to the side.  The biotch look.

In hindsight I can piece together what caused the water to turn on in the first place.  My right hand and forearm is usually oblivious to its own actions.  I must have pushed the faucet when I was placing Tigger's plate.  There is a slight hesitation as the water begins to flow, because the spigot is a big wide trough that fills and then spills over in a wide flowing motion. So Tigger got quite the dumping of water on her back.

Neither cat returned to the tub area last night.  I saw Bogie come into the bathroom early this morning.  She cautiously peered over the edge of the tub, then hovered on the tub edge, contemplating its safety.  She finally went in, and curled up in the dry bed, keeping a watchful eye on that spigot.

I giggle out loud every time I think about it.... and especially the way Tigger leered at me..... Biotch!!

Bogie and Tigger - from happier garden tub days

Monday, October 15, 2012

Someone Has Cancer

Since I have been through more than one cancer diagnosis and multiple chemo/radiation sessions, I have had people ask me what can they do to help someone who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Some tell me they don’t know what to say when either someone tells them they are diagnosed with cancer, or it is the first time they speak to that person after finding out.  

Let me list a few things that I feel are important and helpful.

When first speaking with the newly diagnosed:
  • LISTEN. Allow the person to speak, cry, be angry.
  • Realize that they will be going through their own personal nightmare.  Physically and mentally.
  • Telling them that you are very sorry, or that this is terrible news, or say that it sucks, or say I know this is a difficult time - is good.  
  • Physically reaching out and giving them a hug, a touch to their forearm, or to hold their hands - is good.
  • Telling that person you will help them anyway you can, and mean it - is good.  
  • Expecting that person will reach out to you when and if they need help - not so good.  It's not easy asking for help.
  • Telling that person that it’ll be ok, because 'you are strong and you will beat it' - not so good.  Why?  Because you don’t really know that..... You have no idea whether or not they will “beat” it.  And strength..... strength is not something they may be feeling for a very long long time.  Although you are conveying what you want to happen, it blocks them from showing how they actually feel - Scared as hell.  Scared of the unknown.  Scared that they will be weak.  Scared that they will die.  I can say with some high level of certainty, they do not feel strong at the moment they are telling others the news that they have cancer.  When I sign my correspondence, I often precede my name with two words - Stay Strong.  I add that to remind myself that to be strong, is an aspiration, not a freebie.

Now, back to how can you help that person.
  • Offer to drive that person to any one or more Dr appointments - As there are many.... Sometimes every day, or every week.....
  • Offer to stay with them in the infusion room during a chemo treatment - this takes at least 3 hours of time, sometimes more.
  • Offer to relieve a family member, or friend, at the hospital so they can take care of themselves for an hour or more.
  • Offer to drive them to one of many radiation treatments.
  • Offer to pick up their children for school or after school events.
  • Offer to take them to a child's, or family member's event.
  • Arrange to mow the grass, and weed the garden, trim the bushes, or pay a service to do it.
  • Arrange, and pay for, snow removal at their house.
  • Arrange time at the house to clean, or pay for a cleaning service.
  • Arrange for a relaxing body massage in their home.
  • Make a meal, or pick up an already prepared meal, that simply needs heating, or can easily be frozen for later.  Be sure to find out what type of foods they are able to and enjoy eating.  Chemo makes most foods taste like a dirty penny, and spices can cause stomach upset.
  • Arrange time at the house and do the laundry, or pick it up and take it to a dry cleaning/laundry service.
  • Make a utility payment, or car payment, house payment if you can afford to do so - even with insurance, medical expenses out of pocket can be high, and they may not have any income from sick pay or disability.
  • Pick them up and go out for a drive, a sit in the park, a quiet meal, a pedicure and foot massage, enjoy their company.
  • Offer to pick up the groceries, or find out what general staples they need/use and pick them up when doing your own shopping.
  • Arrange time to come by and take the dog for a walk, and clean the cat litter box, or the bird cage.
  • If you come for a visit, and notice there are dirty dishes in the sink, wash them.
  • Its the little things that can often mean so much and make a huge difference for that person.
  • Giving a plant or some sort of gift that requires attention - not so good.  It just adds one more thing to think about taking care of.

Notice a lot of these items take the burden not just off of the person going through the cancer, but also their families, their co-cancer partners.  They are also under a great deal of stress.

Additionally, you may want to make a donation to a cancer research foundation.  Choose carefully and make sure the foundation is legit and indicates clearly how it utilizes its funds.  Beware of purchasing products that indicate a portion of proceeds go to a cancer foundation, as those portions tend to be very minimal and lack regulation controls.  

There you have it - with very little snark - no worries, there will be plenty of other topics I can add snark to...... :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October F'n Pink

I never liked the color pink.  This girl did not want pink anything as a kid, nor as an adult.  The closest people in my life know me to add a word full of feeling to the word pink.    "Fucking" pink to be precise.  Prior to my Breast Cancer, they would go out of their way to buy me pink.  Let me say, that I am the kind of person who shows what I'm thinking by my facial  expression..... May as well have neon lights scroll across my forehead.  They would buy the pink just so they could see my expression..... The "oh.... It's fucking pink" expression. 

Since Breast Cancer invaded my life, I make more of a conscience effort to not show that expression so freely.  But, I must admit, it's still there, whether you see it or not. 

Here we are again, in the midst of Breast Cancer Pink October.  Pretty pink.... Usually associated with cute, cuddly, sweetness, happiness, flowers and lace.  But the pink associated with this month is far from any of those things to me.  To this Breast Cancer survivor, pink is dark, gloomy, ugly.....full of pain, nausea, sadness, anger, disability, frustration and fear.  It's still "Fucking pink".  To those told they have Breast Cancer, pink is now their color.  Forced upon them like a cold heavy wet blanket.  I'm gonna go out on a limb, and say that many of them may have my same pink sentiments.

If you've bought or given me pink items, or made donations in the name of a pink sponsorship, I am NOT ungrateful.  I know and appreciate that it is done with love and support of me and to the fight against Breast Cancer.  Believe me, I have purchased the pink.  I have participated in the Komen walks.  I have worn the pink.  I have bought and eaten pink cookies and cup cakes.  I have been sponsored and have sponsored others for the pink cause.  I display some very special pink items - that are from legit foundation/corporate partnerships.  We all have in some way shape or form gotten into the pink.

I have learned from the power of great internet networking of friends and advocates, that if ever there is a question as to where, and how much of an item's donation of proceeds are going to the listed cause - don't buy into it - instead take that same amount of money and make a direct donation to a reputable cancer research foundation.  No skimming of your love and support for their own profit or costs.  100% of your hard earned $$ will definitely make it to the foundation. 

Back to the month of Pink October and what really bothers me most.....The pictures that the corporations display with their pink ads and products for this month are pretty and colorful.  Often showing a bright eyed, happy, healthy looking woman along side the words Breast Cancer 'something'.  Really?  Have they ever spent time in an infusion room?? 

I wonder if those ads weren't so bright and cheery, with a smiling happy woman, what the response would be from the public?  If it actually portrayed the true view of what cancer looks like as it takes its toll and sucks the quality of life out of people.... Show exactly what it looks like to go through hell... Would they want to buy more, or less, to see how a woman can suddenly go from looking healthy and well, to being bald, with sunken black circled eyes, hunched over in constant pain, nauseated, body drawn with new and quite ugly scars, face blown up like a balloon, forcing a smile and pretending it will be ok for all those around them.  Alone, that face doesn't smile.  That face has aged with concern for themselves and their loved ones.  This is the true face of cancer, whether it be breast, lung, liver, brain, bone, colon, bladder, leukemia, or 1,000's of others.  Would consumers say, "hey - look at that?  We've been doing the Breast Cancer pink thing for over 30 years now, where's the cure?  Why are these people still suffering and dying?" .  I highly doubt the corporations would ever show the real look of pink.   All those things I just listed aren't good marketing tools for them.  But they are true.

For most corporations a portion of the proceeds goes directly to their profit income line, and a portion to the Breast Cancer foundation they support.  Pink, is a profitable month for the corporations who hook up with these foundations, as it can potentially be for the foundations themselves.   Note the word "potentially".   This month generates billions of dollars for pink.  And regulating that activity is difficult, if done at all.  Large corporations will publish their portion of proceeds for their foundation partners, and can be found on their website.  It's the small unknown pink items tagged for a Breast Cancer donation, being sold this month, that may very well slip through the crack as unknowing kind hearted, good intention, purchases are made.  Those would be the fake "pinkers".  Taking advantage of everyone for their own profit in mind.  

So.... What can we do about all this pink and the products we see?  1- When in doubt, don't buy.  2 - Make October your designated direct donation month to a recognized Breast Cancer research foundation.  3 - Read as much as you can and learn about how the pink partnerships work.

The following list of 4 important questions are obtained from the Think Before You Pink website:

You should be able to find these answers on the packaging, or in detail on the company's website.
1. Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?
2. What organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
3. Is there a “cap” on the amount the company will donate? Has this maximum donation already been met? Can you tell?
4. Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer? What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?