Sunday, April 6, 2014

I mentioned in my last post that our third wedding anniversary came and went in December. And that we did a little early celebrating because I had an amazing opportunity to do some traveling. What I didn't mention was what sort of token of affection we chose to share with each other. 

Let me preface this by saying Rob is super thoughtful and wonderfully creative when it comes to gift-exchanging. He is seriously the most romantic person I know. I, on the other hand, only just remembered at about 4 o'clock today that it's been exactly 7 years since our first date. Fortunately, what I lack in romance he completely makes up for. And then some. 

But back to the gift exchanging. So this year rather than the traditional anniversary-type presents, we decided to gift each other a house project. I know, I know! It might as well be a new vacuum cleaner, right? Wrong! (Although I did get a new hardwood floor cleaner for Christmas. And I love the heck out of that thing.) You know that spot in your home where stuff and junk have the gravitational pull of the sun? It just collects there. And multiplies! For us it was the third bedroom. After two and a half years I fondly nicknamed it "Purgatory". Because 75% of the things in there were only on what would end up being a temporary layover on their way to Goodwill. We'd bounced around several ideas of what to do with the room over the last couple years. Everything from a home gym to a massive walk-in closet. But this year we finally decided on its destiny. And I think we chose pretty wisely. But I'll let you be the judge...
 Whaddya think? This room (and that gray chair) has quickly taken up competition for favorite spot in the house. And it's only fitting that today - on the 7th anniversary of our first date - that we finally put the finishing pieces of this project into place. And, no, your eyes do not deceive you. That in fact is an empty diploma frame on the wall. But not empty for long!

Graduation in t-minus 40 days!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

So...I guess it's been a minute

But in my defense, I did climb a frickin' volcano. 

Y'all are just going to have to take my word for it that no news is absolutely, positively good news. And by good news I mean, either our days are so filled with new and exciting adventures that I never find the time to sit and write about them. Or, the life a cancer-ass-kicking-grad-student is so full of the mundane that honestly I think I just fell asleep in the middle of that sentence. Either way. The last six week-ish have been a little bit of A... and a little bit of B.

Weeeee...skated our way through my 33rd birthday.
Celebrated Round 1 of Christmas with these fine folks. Whaddyou lookin' at, kid?
And Christmas: Part Deux with All. These. People. Who are these people? And why are there so many of them???
Our 3rd wedding anniversary was a little bit country, a little rock'n'roll, and about 4 days early. Why? you ask. Because on our actual anniversary, I was here...

...studying abroad with the University of Virginia...
...and ringing in the New Year with my favorite UVA nurses.
We studied emergency management and disaster response. And I promise you, it was purely educational.
Really, really educational when we climbed this.
And this.
To get here.
Where is "here"? you ask. Here is 4,000 feet above sea level at the top of Mount Liamuiga. Oh, you read that right. That's a frickin' volcano. And in honor of World Cancer Day today, how's that for telling cancer to suck it?!?

To check out the rest of my disaster preparing, beach going, volcano climbing adventures...
click HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Little Vinnies: Part II

A few months ago as I was getting ready for nipple reconstruction surgery, I started to mention a little something about nipple tattooing. Short story is, there's this interesting gent outside Baltimore who started tattooing while in the Army. One morning, he woke up and said to himself, "Self, what you need to do is tattoo nipples back on to ladies who don't have them no more." I'm not sure if that's exactly how the conversation went. But I feel like I'm not that far off. For the slightly longer story, try this ABC news segment from about a month ago.
Being all world-renowned and what-not, Vinnie books up fast. So when I called in early August to schedule with him, today was the first slot he had available. For anyone curious, his shop looks exactly like any other tattoo parlor I've ever been in. No, wait. This one had a pool table in the middle of the lobby area. And it was a lot cleaner. None-the-less, it was in a tiny strip-mall. Sandwiched between a veterinary office and a beer-alcohol-wine-tobacco shop.
Vinnie explaining tattoo after-care procedures. Photo expertly cropped by Rob. (Yes, yes those *are* shark teeth in the background.)
And a post-tattoo photo with the artist himself.

Little Vinnies: Part I

Blogspot just kindly reminded me it's been the better part of 6 weeks since I've blogged. I feel like with most blogs that's really not such a big deal. I'm mean, c'mon. Sometimes you just don't have anything that friggin' exciting to write about. Or sometimes life gets in the way and you're too friggin' busy to sit down and write about how friggin' busy you are.  I'm going to claim the latter on this one. And trust me. Even though this is a blog about cancer - no news is almost definitely good news. Honestly, if I have something to b*tch and moan about, y'all be like the second or third to hear about it. You're in the top 5 for certain. 

So I could catch you up on the last 6 weeks worth of awesome. But even just thinking of everything we've been up to kinda makes me tired. I will say this, though. I just wrapped up my second-to-last-ever semester of grad school. There are no words for that 16 week suckfest. Don't get me wrong. The courses were amazing. I now know more about International Social Development than I ever thought I wanted to know. And now consider myself a burgeoning program evaluation guru. (Also, I use words like burgeoning. Correctly and everything.) But that was brutal. I'm talking, "I got a B" brutal. Yea. 

And I'm totally not blaming that "B" on stupid cancer or anything. But! I did have to go back in for another revision surgery during the semester. Of course the week of Thanksgiving - aka "the week before Finals" - was the most logical time to go in for surgery. Paper writing on pain meds... what could possibly go wrong???

Anyway, back to that surgery. On the right side, the inframmary fold had, well, kinda come unfolded. I"ll spare you any images and let you use your imagination (or Google!) on that one. Let's just say, one wasn't as perky as the other. So Dr. M went in and perked her right back up. Not for nothin' - he's used the same inframammary incision on that side 4 times now, and it still heals up like a champ every time. Which is really helping my "I'm part Wolverine" story.

<Side note for anyone who is a) intollerant to morphine, and b) will be in need of morphine any time in the near future. My stomach is always at odds whenever the two happen to meet. To prevent the throw down (in which I inevitably throw up) the lovely hospital folk give me some anti-medics. One of which, this time, was a scopolamine patch to wear behind my ear for 48 hours. And it worked great! I would, however, have appreciated a word of warning that it could, might possibly make my vision blurry. Temporary side-effect that went away within 48 hours of removing the patch. But c'mon - you gotta warn a girl!

Now I realize I've rambled on-and-on and have gotten no where near to the subject line of this post. Yup... looks like this was meant to be a two-parter. Stand by for the sequel, Little Vinnies: Part II. Which hopefully will not take another 6 weeks. I make no promises.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Well, y'all, we finally made it through Pinktober. And none the worse for wear, I'd say. It is safe once again to go to the grocery store without running into this...
Mmmm....biscuits for the cure!
...and the autoparts store without seeing this...
Huh...pepper spray to cure breast cancer? If only I'd know it was that easy. Kinda makes all that pesky chemo nonsense seem silly now.
...or the breast surgeon's office without this...
Go home, JCPenney, you're drunk.
And while I saw very little of this... 
Fear not, I'll be carrying that torch again next year.
Pipe down!
Now this post is only 4 days overdue. I had grand plans of a Halloween edition Throw-Back Thursday post for you. But ummm....yea...can I still blame this one on chemo brain? No? Okay, fine. Then I'm totally blaming it on being an overwhelmed graduate student. Btw, 9 credits in a semester and an internship and working full-time... maybe not one of my better ideas. I've clocked more hours sitting at this desk in the last month then I care to mention. But! There's only 5 weeks left in the semester. And I'll still graduate on time (have I mentioned May 17th 2014? Mark you calendars!). And I've figured out a brilliant (if I do say so myself) way to redistribute my final course load next semester and do a little traveling. More on that later. 
Left: Halloween 2012. Right: Halloween 2013. Both: Dogs sincerely displeased with their costumes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wake me up when Pinktober ends: Part II

So here's a little hodgepodge of things I thought I'd share with you, my dear readers, while I procrastinate the other writing I should be doing right now. 

1. Since Tuesday's celebratory post, I've received some much better suggestions on how to identify the fairly major milestone that is an awesomely cancer-free year. 'Cause Cancer Birthday just doesn't sound quite right. So instead...

Happy 1st Suvivor-versary Day!


Happy 1st Survivor Birthday!

But, hey, it's my first time around at this so what the heck do I know? Wait 'til this time next year. I'll have this thing down solid. And speaking of having it down solid...major, major, major high-fives to an awesome young lady we know who has done just that! Congrats on 21 years free of childhood leukemia!

2. Remember that article I shared with you a couple weeks ago? It's been picked up by the Baltimore Sun and shared by the fine folks at Stupid Cancer.
3. And finally, how do you know when it's entirely time for Pinktober to be over with for another year? When you're driving to work and see this license plate.
And your first thought is... BRCA positive??? Why on earth would you announce to everyone on the highway via your license plate that you're positive for the BRCA gene mutation and are predisposed to breast cancer???

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I have officially been cancer-free for 365 days!!! And while out celebrating tonight with the fam, our waiter - Phil - asked if there was a special occasion  for our get-together tonight like a birthday. Well... yeah, I guess it kinda was like a birthday. There was family and cake and candles and gifts. Sounds like a birthday to me. 
Family? Check!
Cake? Check!
So I got to wondering how other people have celebrated an entire year of being foot-loose and cancer-free. In case you're curious, too, here are a few results you get when Googling "how to celebrate 1 year cancer-free". 

  1. Get a tattoo
  2. Plant a tree
  3. Organize a blood drive 
"A Year in the Life of Cancer"
So none of that does much to help answer Phil the Waiters question. But, a birthday? Sure! Why the heck not? Happy 1st Cancer-Birthday to me!