Manifest Destiny

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HKDOX68QLV

I loved The-Manifest Station, long before I ever submitted anything to them for consideration. Imagine my excitement when this piece found its home among the many other beautiful works I’ve read there.
I used to worry I might be a one-note writer. Like illness was all I had to dissect and discuss. Lately, I’ve come to shift gears a bit on this. I’m less apologetic about my musings. For as much as I’ve seen and experienced, perhaps this is precisely the role I’m meant to play. I’ve come to embrace the fact that, for me, cancer is not simply a calling card — it’s a calling.

Sailing the Waves of Cancer: Living With a Disease That Won’t Let Go

Oh, Hey October, Nice to See You Again

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Each October I try to develop some, funny coping strategy to help get me through the month of reminders. Everywhere I look, all I see is pink, and though some women take great comfort and strength in this which is great, for me it tends to throw a spotlight on lots of injustices: the fact that I got this cancer to begin with; the fact that so little of the money collected goes toward stage IV disease research; and that there are many cancers, more rare than mine, which get no funding as a result of sales boosts from a little piece of colored fabric.

One year I tried pulling out breast cancer “gifts” — little things that made my situation any more palatable. I truly enjoyed it. Then Last year, I casually started taking photos with my phone of items featuring pink ribbons in stores that I thought were hysterically inappropriate. I asked friends to click and send their own images to me via my Facebook page, and they obliged with amazing contributions. In fact they were so great that this year I decided to do it again.

Three advertisements caught the eye of my friend, Tracey yesterday. Below is my take on each:

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Okay, so, let me break this one down here. Actually, it’s not so far of a stretch since: A) My tissue expanders felt like two hard, apples on my chest. (Ask anyone who hugged me during that time to attest to that – they may still have bruises.) B) If I had been allowed, I’d have had at least a six pack of these every single night during treatment to escape. C) I did have quite a few drinks AFTER treatment was over to celebrate. However, it does sort of make me laugh that two of the things that all oncologists agree you should avoid following a BC diagnosis – booze and sugar! Methinks this beverage has both in abundance. Nothing says a cold, hard and refreshing escape like breast cancer!

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KFC. I’ll skip the obvious “chicken breast” reference since it’s far too easy and go right for the jugular on this one. I think it’s totally appropriate that they are pink for October. What better than a bucket of sh!t to represent Breast Cancer since, during treatment, that’s precisely how I felt. Nothing says Finger Lickin’ Good like breast cancer!

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I do think the trash can may be my fave. Only because I like it when everyone sees the sense of irony in a situation. You know, like how I felt like garbage, blah, blah, blah. It says to me that these folks MUST understand that humor in BC. I think anyone who has come in contact with me knows laughter is an essential piece of my life, but I do recognize that my sense of levity doesn’t necessarily match up with everyone else’s. This pic, though? It does. ‘Cause god knows I would trash this cancer crap. For EVERYONE. Plus, you know I had radiation, so I assume they incinerated those nasty little cells like they do with some of the trash I put in a container just like this one. Nothing says “I’ve got great cans” like breast cancer!

Is This Really What I Signed Up For?

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I really love and respect the site AgingCare.com. Not just because the editor is willing to post my work, but because it caters to a population I feel often gets overlooked: Caregivers.

To know a site like AgingCare even exists thrills me. The idea that individuals isolated in their own respective locations can go to one place to get support, practical information and to interact with others in the same predicament is so comforting to me. 404735_2614514794468_1279033597_n

As someone in my early 40’s, I represent an atypical segment of the caregiving population. I was surprised when AgingCare asked me to contribute my views to their blog, but thrilled at the opportunity to share them. I hoped my words might reach someone in the same situation as I once was who feels as I once did, like there is no one else in the world who shares their burden.

In piece linked below I address the notion that at one point or another, none of us feels like we signed up for caregiving. But that we can all take comfort in the fact that it’s okay to feel that way.

Is This Really What I Signed Up For?  Taking care of a husband with cancer while raising three kids younger than ten was a future I never expected when we first said “I do.”

Giving Thanks… For These Folks

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I, like many, spent the weekend giving thanks: For my family, for my health, for my friends, and for public servants far and wide who sacrificed their holiday protecting civilians like me.

But some police and firefighters go beyond simply trying to contain crazy, tv-deal-grabbing discount hounds on Black Friday at Walmart, and for them I am especially grateful.  These brave souls have to hit the streets in vehicles decked out like this:

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And this:

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And even this:

Fire truck

I am a BC veteran and even I bow my head in sincere admiration; I know I couldn’t do it.

These folks work every day to ensure our safety. They rush in when others rush out, putting themselves and their lives at risk when we need them the most. Like at Walmart on Black Friday. Whether it’s an accident, medical emergency or a fire, they are there in a hurry to keep us safe.

My body has often felt like it was burning from the inside out, I might even say it was on fire, all courtesy of my hormone-fueled hot flashes. Perhaps someday there will be a separate firefighting unit dedicated to only this issue, and when you call 911 this guy would show up:

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Imagine the goodwill and smiles he would spread to the bc sisterhood; I certainly think I’d feel better. I’ve always said it takes a real man to wear pink —  or in this case a real hot man.

Man-oh-man, nothing says community helper like breast cancer!

Chickening Out

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My friend Jared and I have known each other for nearly twenty years. I have watched him morph from an 18-year-old college kid into a man with a wife and a son of his own. I think it’s fair to say that there are few people on this earth who make me laugh as much or as hard as Jared, so I always look forward to his texts. I can thank him for this gem.

I love it. I truly love it. It makes sense, it’s funny, and Boar’s Head was even kind enough to slap the ribbon on the low sodium version of their product; I could’t be more appreciative. Thanks to Jared, I don’t have much work to do on this one.

I mean seriously, nothing says chicken breasts like breast cancer!

Deal With It!

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I asked my friends to send me pics of items and I have to thank Melissa for this little gem. This is the first time I have ever seen a deck of cards adorned with the pink ribbon.

At least this item is novel and fun. So many other pink ribbon products range from head-scratchers to downright insulting. (More on those in posts to come.)

Now the hard part: Picking a tag line for this product’s bc campaign.

  • Nothing says getting dealt a bad hand like breast cancer!
  • I hoped my doctor was bluffing when he told me I had breast cancer!
  • Nothing says “I’ve got a great pair,” like breast cancer!
  • With genes like mine, boobs were always a gamble!
  • But with my shiny new pair, strip poker is a little less scary – thanks breast cancer!

Ok, I came up with those in about 5 minutes — now it’s your turn!

What a Hair-brained Idea!

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I would safely file this under “painfully ironic,” except someone actually had to approve this marketing plan.

As a quick reminder:

1. Most patients with anything other than early-stage breast cancer disease will probably require chemotherapy.

2. Chemotherapy kills quickly growing cells like cancer and…HAIR.

3. Patients who are receiving chemotherapy will lose the hair on their head and their face.

4. Therefore, they will have NO hair on their head to dry NOR eyebrows on their face to tweeze!

Good. Lord. People. Think before you pink!

I guess nothing says reminding patients how much they miss styling and plucking more than breast cancer!

Ribbon on the Edge

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For the last month or so, I have been posting pics of random pink-ribbon adorned items, generously forwarded to me by my friends, on my Facebook page. I have decided to add a handful to my Bets and Pieces site as well.

I actually saw this product for the first time last year but they went back for seconds, so I felt the need to give them a shout-out. Allow me to break down the multiple reasons why this pink ribbon campaign is so wrong it’s right:

1. Tears. I know, duh. But these are sweet onions. I can’t even claim the obvious “they both made me cry” line. Plus, who’d let me get away with anything that lame anyway?

2. The company is called Bland Farms. Bless their hearts. No wonder they need a pink ribbon on their onion bag to jazz things up – ’cause there isn’t much about breast cancer that I can think of that qualifies as bland!

3. They could have picked a more colorful red onion, but BLAND farms held true to their name and stuck with yellow. I mean seriously, can you imagine the marketing meeting on this one?

“I think we should really stick with sweet onions as opposed to the traditionally flavored, even if we can get the more colorful ones, otherwise we may send the wrong message.”
“Um, we’re selling fucking onions here.”

4. The fact that these onions have a FRENCH translation on the label! What the what???!! Guess Bland farms is a little saucier than I thought.

Oh sweet onions, thank you for once again making me smile. And for making me shake my head in sheer confusion at the same time.

Nothing says onions like breast cancer!

Five Awesome Breast Cancer Gifts

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Cancer can take away so much, and yet nothing in my life has taught me more about myself or revealed more to me about others. So in essence, cancer is a gift. I know, I know, for the Hnaths it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Ba-dum-bum.

In my traditional glass-is-half-full approach, I hope you will forgive me if I take an opportunity to offer up what I have been GIVEN by this insidious disease. And if you, or someone dear to you, has battled it, feel free to comment on what cancer has done FOR you, too.

I have added to my list over the last year, and will continue to do so, but I think these are my top five to this point. I will post some more every so often. Enjoy!

  1. Never again will I feel compelled to scramble to find something pink to wear to my kids’ Breast Cancer Awareness basketball games. I. Am. Aware.
  1. Finally proof that Angelina Jolie and I share more in common than simply a love of bad-ass tattoos and hot husbands. BRAC- POSITIVE FOREVAHHH, BABYYYY!!
  1. Because my genes decided to revolt, I am, at the ripe old age of 42, the first of my friends to be officially menopausal. (Does that make me a Meno-pioneer? A Mentor-pause?) So I will never again have to find creative ways to carry or conceal “feminine” products. Awwww yeahhhh. You’re jealous, admit it.
  1. Having any hair = Good hair day
  1. Three little words I never expected being able to incorporate into my vocabulary: Bras are optional. That’s right ladies, read it and weep.