Keeping Abreast of the Situation

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This image is hilariously true & my first 40 have been, by no means, an exception.

Some of you may recall the heartbreak my family and I experienced in February 2011 when my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and then died suddenly in the hospital after 3 days of admittance. It was then that I jumped face first into breast cancer advocacy.

Then October of that year I had my own breast lump scare, which thankfully turned out to be nothing. However, since then I have been going through my own personal hell trying to figure out how not to get this plague. I had yearly mammograms, I spoke with breast specialists, I tried to get family on board to help me with paperwork so that I could get the genetic testing done to find out once and for all if I am predisposed for this horrendous disease. All to no avail or peace of mind for me.

Isn’t that how life seems to go…

So after years of trying to get my emotional well-being in good working order, I took another leap trying to get my physical health under control as well. In doing this, I found a great RN who got me in touch with a great breast cancer specialist at St. Louis University Hospital.

At first, I was freaking out. Because you know it was not that long after the 4th year deathaversary of Jess, and apparently I was not as over it as I had previously thought. So while retelling the story I broke down, I was an absolute train wreck.

Yeah, so not over it…

After consultation, two exams by two different medical professionals, and a box of tissues; the doctor decides that the best course of action would be for me to see a genetic counselor and find out what my risk is and if I should be genetically tested for the breast cancer gene. Then pending the counselor’s decision I could be given a referral for a breast reduction at my 3 month follow-up.

I was incredibly nervous for weeks leading up to the appointment with the counselor. Nervous and me are like ex lovers, a true love/hate relationship, only, I am the one who suffers no matter what.

Ha, another emotional issue I thought I had conquered and left in my past…

Based on what I knew about my family history (not much really, in retrospect) which is full of cancers, the counselor assessed my risk factor for breast cancer.

The counselor assessed me as high risk at 20-40%. Most women have a risk factor of 12%. The counselor then decided that it would be better for the only cancer survivor in my family to have the gene test done and then if she was positive, I could then be tested too.

I had a lot of emotional baggage brought up by the thought of having to contact family that I had decided to stop having contact with.

It took me a few days but I knew what I had to do, and it didn’t involve reconnecting with those toxic people…

I had spent so much time freaking myself out over something that may or may not happen, that I ended up missing the fact that my risk of getting breast cancer is the exact same since my conception. Genetically nothing had changed at all.

The scariest part of life is always the unknowns and even then, what really was I scared of…

The only thing that could change all of this was to have a double mastectomy and that, without the gene test, was off the table. Or so I thought.

Since I am such a high risk, my doctor has given me two choices going forward in my breast health. I can get a breast reduction, which I have been in desperate need of getting for most of my life. In doing this I can relieve a great deal of my back pain and other issues due to having such heavy breasts. I can then get mammograms and MRI’s every 6 months, and annual doctor exams for the rest of my life. This option doesn’t take away any of the risk of getting breast cancer that I already have.

Being 4 weeks short of 40, I am thinking that option sounds like a really long time to be doing all of that. And in my opinion seems more of a cosmetic fix than a preventative measure.

Or I can get a prophylactic double mastectomy and cut my risk factor way down with no more need of mammograms or MRI’s, just an annual visit and exam by my doctor. This option can lower my risk of getting breast cancer immensely.

After sitting for 2 hours waiting for my mammogram results and then discussing it with my husband, it became a lot easier to chose which path was right for me.

Tuesday June 30th I meet with the plastic surgeon to discuss my options but I am fairly confident in the decision I have already made.

I choose…

the prophylactic double mastectomy because they’re only boobs, my life over bags of flesh and fat any day!

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A Friday Moment

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A Friday ritual. A single photo — no words — capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to others by Sarah-Jane, of Almost There.

I was asked to participate in this by Anna Sides, of The Other Side of Anna and the other great blogging members of the Facebook group Blogplicity.

If you find yourself touched by a moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Copyrighted: InjensMind

Mother’s Day 2012: A Letter To My Mom

It’s Mother’s Day again… don’t act so surprised, I mean, it does come every single year in May. Last year, I was talking about Mother’s Day and how I was struggling with my sister’s birthday coming up and how my husband always acted like “my” days didn’t matter.

This year is different, even though May 13th is Mother’s Day and would have been Jess’s 35th birthday. So before I get into the mom stuff, let’s have a moment of silence for my sister.

Happy birthday Jess! You will never be forgotten. I love you & miss you so much!

When I started writing this post my brain took me on a wild journey that could have left me stranded in the abyss of negativeness and uncontrollable rage. But, I decided I would save that trip for another time, a time when I wasn’t trying to write a dedication post. So instead of writing about how having two “moms” on Mother’s Day meant to me, I have chosen to write about just my biological mom… and quite frankly the ONLY MOM I have. (Another time I will elaborate but, today this post will remain free of that…)

My mom got pregnant at age 17, she gave birth to me 1 month and 5 days after her 18th birthday. She delivered me in McLaren Hospital in Flint, Michigan on July 17th, 1975. My father, who she had just married on Valentine’s Day of that very year was nowhere to be found. I exaggerate because he could have been found but, needless to say nobody cared enough to drag his sorry ass to the hospital so he could do his husbandly/fatherly duty. (I know I said I wouldn’t mention them but, that part was extremely important. It shows how brave my mother was.)

I have heard countless times about my birth from my mom… Don’t all children? I was breach, “You had your little feet on both sides and you refused to come out.” And now you all know when and where my stick-it-to-the-man never back down attitude started. There are many things over the years my mom has told me about the first 5 years I lived with her. There are even more stories that were passed on to me by people who think that I don’t remember. For some reason they act like I didn’t witness it for myself. Those people and their stories are irrelevant at this time.

Now I can’t sit here and lie to you all and tell you that I have loads of fond mother/daughter memories as a child and teen, because I don’t. I can’t tell you that I didn’t have my fair share of issues growing up without my mom in my daily life. My mom wasn’t perfect… no human being is. My mom often tells me, “I know I will never be mother of the year.” I always laughed that comment off. I thought it was silly that mom thought like that, because I have never cared one way or another. I figured that once someone apologized and you forgave them then it was done and from that point on it was no longer an issue. Maybe it wasn’t for me that she was saying it.

But, now I am going to award her. I am going to give her something that is better than Mother of the Year. Because she deserves more than a title that comes and goes every year and here is why…

My mother did the best she could with what she had. She made mistakes. She didn’t always say or do the right thing. She made choices that weren’t the best. But…

  • She NEVER abused us. There was no emotional blackmail, no beatings, no psychological terrorism laid upon us by her whatsoever.
  • She ALWAYS loved us unconditionally.
  • She worried and fretted and if at any time one of her kids were not speaking to her she would ask about them to the ones that were. (In other words, she’d always ask me.)
  • She APOLOGIZED for all the things she did or didn’t do.
  • She NEVER repeatedly did those things after apologizing. (That is something many do not do.) When she said sorry she meant it.
  • She NEVER did to us what was done to her.
  • She lost a grown child who wasn’t speaking to her and lives with the guilt from that. (Even though she shouldn’t torture herself over things she had no control over.)
  • She went back to school, taking college courses at age 55.
  • She is the ONLY person helping to care for her 77-yr-old mother and her 79-yr-old step-father.
  • She has 7 grand-kids, 2 that she has never met or been allowed to know. (Jess’s older daughters) 2 that are just starting to open up to her. (Jess’s twin boys) All 7 living in other states away from her. Yet she holds out faith of one day having all of them close by in her life and loves each and every single one of them with her heart and soul.
  • She’s not fake… She doesn’t smile in your face and at the same time try to turn people against you behind your back.
  • No matter who tried to stand in her way she never stopped being who she is.
  • She wakes up every day, goes out and gives the world her all.

Plain and simply put… She is my best friend, I love her, and I am blessed to call her mom!!!

Dear Mom,
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you more than you probably even know.
Words; even from someone as prolific as I am, just cannot express the
love that I have for you. I don’t need for you to be anything that you aren’t,
I never did. You and I know the truth of our relationship. We both know what
we went through. You have given me more than any one ever could by just you being you. You don’t ask me to be anyone or anything that I am not. You don’t
try to change me. You’re not embarrassed (yet… lol) by me. I know that you
love me and the kids and even Gustavo. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. I don’t feel the need to punish you for the past, we have long since moved on
from all that bullshit. 
I am who I am today partly because of you. Nobody in
the world can ever take that from you no matter how much they think they can, they can not! I am proud of all you have accomplished and what you will do. I am honored that you have allowed me to be included in all that
you do. I am proud to be your daughter. I am proud of all that you are and all
that you aren’t. Simply stated… I AM PROUD OF YOU!!! I wish I could be there to say this all in person and hug you tightly. But, that just isn’t in the cards right now so…
May you have the
happiest of days today and every day.
And never ever ever forget that
I LOVE YOU!!!

The ‘Moment’ Between Life And Death

Google Image

A Friday ritual. A single photo — no words — capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to others by Sarah-Jane, of Almost There.

I was asked to participate in this by Anna Sides, of The Other Side of Anna and the other great blogging members of the Facebook group Blogplicity.

If you find yourself touched by a moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Copyright- InJensMind

The First Year Deathaversary

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It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since the passing of my younger sister, Jessica. A whole year! Time flies by when you are living, I guess.

It’s been a long and painful year, full of ups and downs. It’s also been a very enlightening and freeing year. Every day I wake up and give thanks to the Universe for helping me break free of so many unhealthy and one-sided friendships. Friendships I had clung to because I am just that kind of caring and loving friend. Friendships that I believed would be forever. I also give thanks, love, kisses and hugs daily to my children, husband, and pets. For without them I wouldn’t be able to function, even a fraction of what I do now. They are the glue that holds me together.

I have spent several of the last few weeks trying to prepare myself for this day. Some people may find it unhealthy to place so much emphasis on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing. I don’t. I find it perfectly normal to get your emotions, thoughts, and memories in order before the day hits. Then again, I’ve seen more death in my lifetime then most and at a younger age. This is why some of the things people say just knock me out cold. I mean do these people even know what it is to lose a sister? We’re not talking about comparison here. We’re not talking about who has suffered more. We’re talking about how someone can tell another person how to deal with something that they’ve never been through! It’s like saying that the pain of giving birth is nothing compared to menstrual cramps, yet you’ve never given birth. That’s like me telling someone who lost their mom to “get over it, it happened while she gave birth to you.” First of all, I’d never say that. One because I am just a caring, sympathetic person and that comment is one only an asshole would utter. Secondly, I’ve never lost a parent yet, knock on wood. So obviously I have never been close to that same situation. Lastly, just because you might not have known your mother doesn’t mean you have no connection to her. You have a connection that nobody else has with her. You have the connection of coming to life and growing inside her and you also have the guilt. Nobody wants to blame anyone but, Lord knows many a child has been shunned and abused by their father or family for “killing” their mother. It’s asinine and it sucks and well… people can just be irresponsible loudmouth jerks.

I don’t just mourn one day a year. I mourn throughout the year. A happy memory from my childhood could start out so wonderful and the more my mind remembers the bond we once shared the more painful it becomes… Then walks in the guilt, shame, regret, and the tears. Let’s not forget the tears that strike at any given moment. And usually, when this happens I become distant, as I try to remove the horrific pain from my soul. I revert to that scared little child looking for a place to hide from the monsters that were enclosing upon me. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s automatic, instantaneous, habitual, and it’s how I grew up without being more screwed up then I already am.

If you’ve never lost someone you know, count yourself lucky because it never is easy and won’t get any easier as you age either. It’s a painful thing to experience and even though you try and tell yourself that they are in a better place with no more pain, you can’t help but to question why you are left to carry the painful burden. Why do some people get out and some of us have to stay and experience more than our fair share of suffering? Outliving those you love has to be one of the most stressful things you could ever experience.

It reminds me of my grandma who has outlived all of her siblings. (She is the oldest of 4.) How excruciating it must be to have none of them left. To have no parents left. To only have your grown children, and grown grandchildren (1 of the 4 gone a year now), and great-grandchildren left. But, she doesn’t have all of them with her. All she has at this very moment is my mom. The rest of us are too far away and some of the great-grandkids don’t even know of her and may never know her. That is some very sad sad shit if you ask me. I know she puts on a brave face but, just as I know how much it hurts me, I know it hurts her a lot too. Death sucks bigtime!

So the next time a person decides to tell another person who they should care for, who they should mourn for, how long they should mourn, etc… Bite your damn tongue!

As the Cherokee Proverb goes:

“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this because they think it’s easy to just put on someone’s shoes and that’s that. So let me give you one more, so you really grasp what it is I am saying to you…

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960

We all need time to handle our unresolved business. And nothing is more unresolved then a loved one who dies suddenly. Nothing can be resolved when you don’t get to say good-bye. There is no peace of mind when it comes to all the questions that will never be answered. There is no possible way to “just let it go and move on” when no one is held accountable.

If you want to help someone who is hurting, mourning, grieving, dying in mind, soul, and heart… send them your love. Send them your sympathy. Let them know that it even though she wasn’t your sister you hurt because you see your friend hurting. Check up on her and let her know she isn’t alone. That’s all you can do.

And trust me when I say, anything else that you might think is helpful but comes off asinine will be met with rudeness and anger. Do you want your friend to curse at you for being a jerk? No, you don’t! Keep in mind this little bit of information… Everyone dies eventually and there will come a time when death will strike in your home. Don’t be left alone without comfort from your friends because you thought they were taking too long to heal over their loss. You will find out soon enough that healing on the inside always takes longer than healing on the outside.

As for this day, well… it had its ups and downs. (Look for my favorite moment from today on Friday.) I cried a lot here and there. Wiped my tears, loved on my children, drank some wine, listened to The Beatles and John Lennon, burned meditation candles, stared at Buddha while the candles flickered, laughed a bit, cried some more, loved on all my friends who came to my side, and well… I got through the first year deathaversary of my sister, Jessica Rae.

And to my mom, grandma, grandpa, and brother…I love you more than there are stars in the heavens. Even if I don’t believe in a heaven per se… I believe that Jess is among the stars waiting for us. Right now all we can do is be the best people we can be while we are here. Forgive those who’ve wronged us… that hate is only hurting us, we don’t need more hurt. Love those who are still here… they need our love and we need theirs. “Love is the answer.”

May you all be safe, sound, and find the strength to be where I am at!

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