We Can Rebuild Her
Better than she was before… Better, Stronger, Happier. A Breast Cancer Journal

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I’d Skip This Post If I Were You

This morning, my oncologist tasked me with making my hormone therapy choice.

I’ve been reading the horrors of Tamoxifen so I perked right up when I heard the word “choice”.

Here are my options:

5 years of Tamoxifen
Tamoxifen is a 33 year old and very contraversial drug which is either a life-saver or a menace, depending what you read.

Its known side effects include: blood clots, stroke, uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, shortness of breath, weakness, tingling, or numbness in your face, arm, or leg, difficulty speaking or understanding, vision problems, dizziness, increased tumor or bone pain, hot flashes, nausea, fatigue, mood swings, depression, headache, hair thinning, constipation, dry skin, loss of libido, weight gain, cognitive dysfunction, sexual dysfunction and more. Super Scary.

or

A 5 year Randomized Clinical Trial SOFT: Suppression of Ovarian Function Trial (IBCSG 24-02)
If I chose this option, I would be randomly selected to receive one of the following:

  • Tamoxifen (see huge side-effect list, above)
  • Tamoxifen (see above) and Triptorelin (a drug that will suppress ovarian functioning and induce menopause with its own slew of side effects )
  • Exemestane (an aromatase inhibitor) and Triptorelin (see above)
    Apparently Exemestane has been shown to be 2-4% more effective in decreasing recurrence and spread of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Unfortunately, its side effects are, anecdotally, much more severe than Tamoxifen’s. Super-Duper scary.

And don’t even ask what’s behind door number 3. I made that mistake.

I guess being a chubby, depressed, moody, sexually dysfunctional air-head beats being dead…
If I don’t get the deadlier side effects, that is.

As my good friend Mary would say, awesome.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 31, 2010

March 31, 2010 at 12:28 pm.

19 comments

Happiness Is…

Our prophylactic dog.

Lucy begged for a dog, almost daily, for 6 years.

Little did we know when we finally broke down and found Phaedra, in February 2009, that the favour we were doing would most benefit me.

Thank you, Phae.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 31, 2010

March 31, 2010 at 6:09 am.

8 comments

I See Dread, People
10 Small Talk Tips for Cringe-Proofing One’s Future

I’ve had more than my fair share of fabulous reactions to my diagnosis. Tonnes of people have been wonderfully real with me — and wonderfully supportive.

These people have turned what could have been pure nightmare into a long-lasting lesson in generosity and friendship.

I am truly grateful.

That being said, OMG, I’ve had some hilariously inappropriate reactions.

I’m far from a guru of social graces, but I just have to chuckle at some people’s obvious dread of interactions with me — and their fumbling attempts to hide that dread.

I know I’ve made big mistakes in the past and I cringe just thinking about them.
So, I’ve compiled the following handy list of Ten Small-Talk Tips for Cringe-proofing One’s Future. And it’s free!**

  • If you don’t know what to say, simply say so — and save us both from whatever you’d blurt out otherwise.
  • If my diagnosis scares you for your own health or that of a loved one, share that fear with someone other than me.
  • If you’re imagining terrifying possibilities for me, keep them to yourself.
  • If you know of survivors and therefore think my situation is a walk in the park, put yourself in my shoes for two seconds before you decide to treat me as such.
  • If you’re afraid I may keel over dead during our conversation, maybe it would be better just to smile, wave hello and keep walking.
  • If you follow my blog because you care, but just not enough to send the occasional comment or email to respond to my story, don’t mention my blog when we meet in person.
  • If you follow my blog out of morbid curiosity, and therefore don’t send the occasional comment or email to respond to my story, don’t mention my blog when we meet in person.
  • If you’d rather not know how I’m doing, don’t ask.
  • If you have no idea what I’m going through, don’t assume otherwise.
  • If you think that not acknowledging my situation is a brilliant social tactic, think again.
  • Bonus Tip #11: When in doubt, try genuine good wishes, a smile and a heartfelt hug.

Or, ignore all of the above — and provide me with hours of comic relief.
I’m happy either way.

** Although I am charging big bucks for the names associated with each tip.

Related Posts:



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010 at 6:12 am.

29 comments

Courage vs Authenticity

Melissa Ethridge, on courage and truth:

Well, Courage. I’ve had a funny relationship with courage.

Because I often get … ‘Oh, you’re so brave, you’re so courageous!’
And I keep thinking ‘Ok, why do they think I’m so courageous?
Oh, because I said I was gay. I told the truth about myself.
Oh, because when I was bald, I was bald and that was the truth.’

And I started thinking ‘Wait a minute. We actually live in a society where just speaking the truth about ourselves, just saying ‘Hey, I’m a gay breast cancer survivor’ is courageous. Speaking our truth is courageous.

…Let’s just back up a minute and examine what we are considering courageous. And how about if this were just normal? If all of us agreed just to wake up every day and go ‘Hey! This is what I am.’

That would change the world.

Melissa Ethridge, from her session Fearless Love: Living Lives of Searing Authenticity and Audacious Courage.
Part of the Women on the Edge of Evolution audio series. 2010.



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm.

1 comment

Happiness Is…

Funky hand made eye candy.

Last week I dropped all News Feeds from my GoogleReader and replaced them with oodles of Flickr feeds full of funky, brightly coloured, creative, hand made cloth sculpture (such as these).

Giving news a pass is an obvious relief.

And the happy photos stir up delicious memories of billions of creative projects from childhood through motherhood. They gently nudge my creative juices.

Most importantly, they feel great on my oh-so-sore eyes.

Why didn’t I think to do this sooner?



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010 at 6:08 am.

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Luba Duba Duo #1: a passover surprise

Today we received a plateful of matzah covered in butter, brown sugar and chocolate. Mmm mmm mmm!!! We are so lucky that we have nice friends who are not afraid to train our sweet tooth!!!

The plate was about three inches high, now it is only like ten centimeters high.

Our dad’s friend came over and ate some and he LOVED it!!! We can’t resist!!! It’s hard because we know they’re not all that great for us but they’re just soooooooo good!!!!!!!!!

Poor mom!!! (Mom doesn’t eat sugar)



Luba Posted by Luba March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm.

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From the Mouth of Bayla #14: the fire on monk

Yesterday, there was a fire on our street, it started at 7:00am and ended at 5:00pm. It affected six appartments there for it affected ten people. only one person was hurt, he slipped on the ice and was put in a neck brace. Our neighbour, Frank, discovered the fire. He was walking to work but he was late but somehow that was a good thing because he saw the fire and banged on the door and yelled FIRE!!! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!! Frank was still on the phone with the fire department when the fire fighters arrived. The fire started on the second-floor balcony and then spread onto the roof. luckily, everybody was safe and accounted for.



Bayla (Now 9!) is the youngest member of the Clan Ross-Blevis. You can read more from Bayla here.

Bayla Posted by Bayla March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010 at 9:07 am.

5 comments

We Run a Pretty Tight Ship

At 3:00 this morning, Bayla dragged me in to her bed.

Phaedra followed.

Within fifteen minutes, Phaedra had peed full force at my trying-to-get-back-to-sleep feet.

A brief but loud battle for clean beds ensued. Phaedra went to her crate, Bayla and I to Lucy’s bed and Lucy in to sleep with Mark.

Mark was up for the rest of the night.

It’s so nice that life is getting back to normal.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010 at 10:13 am.

8 comments

Shifting Paradigms

Life is always in conversation with us.
Without fail she brings us to our perfection.

Reverend August Gold

You can listen to a fabulous interview with August Gold, entitled Answering the Call:
Life is Talking. Are You Listening?, here.

This interview is part of the Women on the Edge of Evolution audio series. 2010.



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010 at 6:24 am.

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Ack!

I’m still feeling the effects of chemo#5 and we’re already just a week from chemo#6.

But (big but) this will be the last one. So…

WooooHoooo!!!



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010 at 6:18 am.

3 comments

For Better or For Worse: Sadness

Sadness

Sadness is deep inside
Sadness is smooth but sharp and jagged
It hides, all the time, eating away at you
Sadness is huge but can be forced into small spaces
Sadness is heavy and dark
Sadness is the lonely howl of a dog.

– Lucy Ross-Blevis, 2010.



Lucy (10) is the second youngest member of the Clan Ross-Blevis. You can read more from Lucy here.

Lucy Posted by Lucy March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010 at 5:59 am.

3 comments

Happiness is…

A Village of Moms.

Working moms juggle tonnes and finding smart, witty, genuine, fun-loving, down-to-earth characters to share kid-free laughs could be a job in itself.

I don’t know how I was lucky enough to stumble into this gang. But I’m grateful I did.

Years of wee-hour hilarity and way too much wine built the friendship.

But, this winter, these girlfriends have been role models and rocks.

Sweeping in with playdates, sleepovers and meals. Saving us when we’ve found ourselves stuck. Breaking up chemo-isolation with evenings of Girls Night In merriment.

And teaching our daughters about friendship, motherhood, community and strength.

It really does take a village.
I’m so grateful for mine.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010 at 6:31 am.

5 comments

Limerick Therapy

In response to Tricia’s Limerick Challenge yesterday:

a woman on chemo one day
thought the world was just crumbling away
then she felt the clouds lift
and said ‘Thanks for the gift
of my life. Now I think I will stay.’



More Limerick Therapy here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010 at 4:07 am.

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Welcome spring

About the only thing that crossed my mind about this spring in September was the sickening feeling of a new cycle of seasons without Andrea. It was the period of limbo between Andrea discovering the lump on August 30 and when we received the diagnosis on October 6 and I had very secular knowledge of cancer at the time, not having learned that breast cancer has a significant survival rate (85-90% after five years).

The mysterious lump in her right breast caused daymares, sleepless nights and the occasional emotional breakdown. I oscillated between hope and despair, regularly unable to shake the fear of impending loneliness.

After only two days, this spring is already the most invigorating and rewarding one I’ve ever experienced. It means even more to me than ever to wake up to the sound of birds and the sight of buds on the trees, the feeling of fresh air and the realization that we’re almost through the worst part of Andrea’s treatment. Most importantly, I’m enjoying the amplified feeling of gratitude that Andrea’s so strong and healthy, and more beautiful than ever. We’re going to grow old together.

Welcome spring. I’m happy to reconnect with you.



Mark is primary support, cheerleader and project manager of Andrea's recovery. You can read more from Mark here and on Mark's real blog, MarkBlevis.com.

Mark Posted by Mark March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm.

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Phew Two

Peace, solitude, space and time to reflect, regroup, recharge, repair

and a nourishing visit from two caring friends.

What a difference two days can make.

Thank you.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010 at 5:47 am.

5 comments