Monday, January 30, 2012

How My Boobs Got Us $300 In Free Stuff In Vegas

As promised a true story about my trip to Vegas this past November. I like to think of it as the perfect homage to my current boobs, may they rest in peace with only 6 more days to protect and serve.

A bit of back story:

1. Early on in life I started off with pair of breasts. They were a little lackluster, not sparkly, not cheerleader material as I noticed in 10th grade. But they were real. So, I would have been most happy with them had they been destined to stick around and do mundane tasks like sustain life for the child I always wanted. It was not to be. May they rest in peace and for the sake of this entry be called, Set 1.

2. At 31 years old, precisely 19 years into Set 1's existence the right one tried to kill me. She developed a decent sized triple negative malignant tumor and was immediately reduced to half her original size via what was the latest and greatest breast oncology had to offer, the lumpectomy. Followed by a couple of rounds of chemotherapy (I should dig for the bald photos shouldn't I?) and over 30 radiation treatments. (It sounds dramatic doesn't it?). In the end, I was left with a diagnosis of remission. Hooray. I was also left with a right breast that simply wouldn't hold a small prosthesis with the help of a good under wire bra. Gravity would tell you that this combo should have worked, but I am living proof to tell you it didn't. On more than one occasion I attended a business meeting eagerly expressing my opinions full of vim and vigor only to be horrified to notice 20 minutes later, " I gave that speech in front of a room full of people and the falsie is now wrapped around my neck." It was at this point three years into remission that I opted for reconstruction. It was paid for by my insurance company, It was perhaps, strong armed by my state's Bra Law. The result, which I am wearing right now for another 6 days shall now be known at "Set 2, The Girls". I'm sorry to see them go. I feel as though I've worked hard for them. They, in their glory days looked presentable in a bikini for heaven's sake. I wish I could say the same about my thighs. It's neither here nor there, I like "The Girls". However, as fate would have it they were only meant to serve for about 8 years.

If you are still reading...How The Girls Got Us $300 In Free Drinks In Vegas...

This summer, when we found out I was swimming in the BRCA 1 gene pool instead of inheiriting bone structure like Halle Berry, the Muffin Man was nice enough to invite me and a few dear friends to Vegas with him to tag along on a business trip. We would party, he would work. Who could turn this down? Looking back, it was a good consolation prize.

My friend L'Mac (pronounced El'Mac) needed to see Barry Manilow. No one else on the trip would acquiesce. I was feeling generous, just happy to be in Vegas, and off the cul-de-sac. It's all about perspective. I might have preferred a more trendy show, something from the 21st century, but L'Mac is a persuasive gal. We bought Manilow tickets at the Paris Hotel. The rest of the crew refused and agreed to meet at the bar afterwards. Manilow lip synced the whole gig and I needed a stiff one 2 hours later. Good God, what were we expecting? The little dude is about 70 years old.

After the show L'Mac and I belly up to the Paris Hotel bar. The others were to join us an hour later. The bartender is darling and asks us what we would like. We toss out a few drink orders and playfully say while rolling our eyes "We've been to the Manilow concert." He laughs and fills our order. As he comes to deliver that drink order he stops and says looking at me, "Wow, nice rack lady where'd you buy them? Local?"

L'Mac almost spit a vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives in his face. With her eyes saying to me, do you want to take this one or shall I? I gently turned to him and said,
"Yes, you like these girls? So do I. Just so you know The Girls have been purchased by the state of Indiana Bra Law circa 2004. You know the Bra Law right? The one that makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny health claims for breast cancer patients and their rights to reconstruction? They are nice, but I came by them the hard way."

I have to give the guy credit, he didn't miss a beat. He didn't apologize, he didn't stutter, he simply filled our order and came back to chat with us as if nothing happened. He was attentive without being obnoxious. He made some polite and some impolite jokes as our friends and spouses joined us over the course of the night. An hour later he said he had to leave, his shift was done. We tipped him out, commenting he was more entertaining than the show we'd seen. Then we got a new server.

When it came time to leave, our party had grown to at least 6. We had been there for ahem, a while. When we asked for the bar bill to pay it upon leaving the new bartender told, your bill is paid.

I turned to L'Mac. "Holy Cow, that bartender paid our huge tab. My boobs got us a free night in Vegas!"

I love these people that get "it". My friends, strange bartenders in Vegas, my kids, family members willing to sign up for a rather tough week, my darling muffin man.

I salute you "The Girls". Thanks for the good times.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Anybody Out There

Hello, is anybody out there?  Do you have the Pink Floyd song dancing in your head?  It's been a while.  I concede.  It's not that I haven't wanted to wanted to share my combination of mediocre writing skills, adorable kid photos and lovely handbag and overall crafty concoctions with you, the internets.  I have.  However,  this fall I found myself stunted, lost for voice. I'll admit even retreating into the perceived safeness of my home.   Over the last several months I've learned that my health is perfect.  This time has given me once again, after my cancer diagnosis eleven years ago the opportunity to step back and truly appreciate what it means to "have your health", and to be grateful.  Truly grateful to God and the Universe that everything is ok, because I also know what it feels like for things not to be so great.  What it feels like when you've had your nose pushed up against a brick wall until you almost can't take the pain anymore while there is a loud voice booming, "Life might not always turn out the way you have planned it. So, make something of what you've got." Deal with it or don't....your choice.

So, I'm dealing with it.  I am BRCA 1 positive.  I carry a DNA genetic mutation that makes it more difficult for my body to fight tumors in the breast and ovary areas.  This means my chances of another breast cancer by the time I turn 70 years old are somewhere between 60%-90%.  The chances of an ovarian cancer are somewhere around 40% give or take.    I suggested to my doctor one day that since I have already beaten one breast cancer that my chances for some other problems must be dramatically lower right?  I've already had it, for heaven's sake.  Take my dice off the table, woman!  "No", she said "Your body has shown you up close that people with this mutation do get cancer at a higher incidence than the general public." 

Oh, right.  What are my chances of buying a winning lottery ticket?  I'd seriously like to know.  Because it sort of feels like I won the crappiest lottery ever made.  Here is your bonus prize babe, surgery to remove tissue that might become cancerous and try to kill you.

In another odd twist I did win a lottery.  I know the answer because I got tested.  I'm in control.  I'm not a victim.  And, if I have the, forgive me here, balls to withstand a few surgeries, my chances of getting sick from breast or ovarian cancer plummet to almost nothing. Then, I can go back to enjoying mediocre writing, two adorable but somewhat ill behaved children who are incapable of picking up dirty underwear up off the floor and a  puggle who likes to snuggle.

In late August the ovaries went.  Broken little girlie bits tossed in an operating room bio-hazard waste basket.  It was relatively uneventful. Now I am a hot flashing mama wearing cotton tee shirts in the middle of winter, while keeping my house a crisp 64 degrees.  All in the interest of saving a few bucks on gas heat this season, I'm taking one for the team.   

And, I just bought this tee shirt.
 I'm planning on wearing it to my next surgery coming up in a week.  The old girls, well, they have to go.  But, no worries...I'm getting new ones.  Cancer proof ones, if you must know.  Does the thought of this make you squeamish?  It's ok if it does.  It makes me wiggy too.  I'll spare you the details and the meat grinder surgery I felt the need to watch on You Tube a few weeks ago, oy.

Ultimately, I feel good about my decisions.  I know they are the right ones for me and my family.  I have some serious graduations to attend, weddings to butt into and maybe grand kids to boss around in my long term future.  

Right at this very minute my kids are blasting Gloria Gaynor "I Will Survive" on their stereo while folding origami valentines for their classmates.  Coincidence?   I think not.  Here's some other things they've been up to in the last few months.

School play.  It was a part time job, for me and them.  But when you have a skunk and a blue good witch...what are you to do?
Two vampires and their bat minion.  They were rewarded with lots of peanut butter cups.  Then the bat minion barfed.  And we called it a night.
Six.  Death by chocolate.
An office Christmas party with the fam.  After this shot was taken, I started drinking heavily took my top off and proceeded to swing from the ceiling tiles while wearing a lampshade as a hat.  Nobody can rock a veggie tray like I can.

The annual feeding of the reindeer, Christmas Eve.  Don't ask me why my children chose this photo opportunity to dress like Russian peasants.  I have a hard time getting them to brush their teeth too.

Nothing like an event commemorating the birth of out Lord and Saviour as an opportunity to break out some lottery tickets.   I know, I know again with the lottery references. 

Oh, and Ava turned 10.  And I forgot to take any photos.  We ate Chinese and she got ipod speakers.  No photos of the milestone that had me choked up for 3 days straight?  This is mother of the year stuff. 

And that my friends is my life, the last 5 months.  See, you missed not one thing.  You are caught up in the riveting and unparallelled happenings of "These are the days of our lives."  

Perhaps 1 week from my mastectomy surgery I'm getting my voice back.  I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  I'll try to blog a little bit more about how fun a mastectomy can be.  Actually, I have a fabulous Vegas story that shall be titled "How my boobs got us $300 in free drinks at the Paris Hotel." Now you are going to tune in right?  Some fools will do just about anything to improve their blogger stats.