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

You are currently browsing the archives for September, 2010.

Buzz for the Cure

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 September 30, 2010

September 30, 2010 at 10:22 pm.

4 comments

They Make Me Feel Dressier**

I never would have guessed I’d miss my Groucho Marx eye brows.

Even after I’d lost them, I would have laughed right out loud at the thought of coaxing them back.

But, tonight I did just that.

I googled growing eye brows and then slathered mine in coconut oil.

We’re hard on ourselves. It fuels the economy. But after years of berating my body, my features, my traits, it feels good to know that I’d rather be me.

With or without the caterpillar brows.

**



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 September 29, 2010

September 29, 2010 at 10:15 pm.

13 comments

Eureka!

“What is narcissism? It’s not what you think it is: It’s not ego. It’s not self-love. It’s self-loathing. Envy. Insecurity. Self-destruction.

The key to understanding the narcissism myth is not that he fell in love with himself, but that he failed to recognize himself in his own reflection. In other words, true narcissists are not self-aware.

A real narcissist is dissociated from his or her true self; he feels haunted by chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and self-loathing and seeks to replace that disconnection with a sense of worth and importance fueled by others.

Narcissism is also marked by a profound lack of empathy, a fundamental inability to understand and connect with the feelings of others. Taken together, these are the traits psychologists measure in diagnosing what’s known as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).”

The Mirror Effect  Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. S. Mark Young

“Narcissistic people create images of themselves to broadcast to the world, trying desperately to have those images be loved by the general populace or by their peers. Deep down, they are insecure and don’t think much of themselves.”

Dave Roy. Curled Up With A Good Book



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea September 23, 2010

September 23, 2010 at 9:36 am.

2 comments

Happiness Is…

Day #1 Done!

…and foot-commuting with my sweet, there and back.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea September 14, 2010

September 14, 2010 at 9:52 pm.

7 comments

Back To Work

Tomorrow I go back to work.

And back to envying those who don’t have to.

But I’m grateful that I’m healthy enough to do it — and lucky enough to have an opportunity to, at long last, add to, rather than constantly deplete, my emptied bank account.



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 September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm.

16 comments

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I’m often asked for tips for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, their family and friends. But every situation is different — and it’s tough to tell which of or whether my choices have actually helped.

The best I can do is offer personal reflections on my various decisions.

So, here is a rambly whack of them…

The Good: I’m glad I chose to…

Insist on a Port-a-cath
Although I was fairly terrified leading up to it, the port-a-cath installation procedure turned out to be a total breeze — and well worth the cyborg result. My port-a-cath saved a good length of vein from chemo-induced damage and allowed me unrestricted, convenient use of both arms for my 18 weeks of chemo.

Mark’s pretty eager to have it removed, but as long as I have blood-work to be done, I’m thrilled to have this built-in valve.

Look to real-life role models
This journey would have been lonely and dismal were it not for the brilliant examples and support of friends like Caroline, Laurie, Derek, Gloria and Eden, whose dignity, courage, resilience and generosity showed me that life is what you choose to make it.

I am so immensely grateful to these shining lights.

Stay active
I’m convinced that getting up and out of my PJs each morning, doing breakfast and walking to school with Luba, sticking to a fairly demanding exercise routine and taking care of household chores helped my body and mind cope with the rigors of treatment.

Chemo threw my emotions into turmoil one week every three, and staying active kept me myself and helped me climb out of that trough again and again.

Enjoy Energy Therapy
Throughout my treatment, I benefited regularly from the talent, generosity and skill of three energy workers. I’m sure the resulting insight, healing and optimism played a major role in minimizing my treatment side-effects, improving my outlook and speeding my well-being.

I am so grateful.

Ask for and accept help
I’ve never been comfortable doing either, but asking for and accepting help not only solved the many logistical problems posed by hectic medical schedules and diminished physical abilities, it deepened friendships, introduced our young family to the beauty of community, filled me with healing gratitude, nurtured my always-battered self-esteem and left me longing to pay-it-forward.
Capture and share our story
We broadcast my diagnosis as soon as it hit us. Right from — and especially at — the very beginning, we audio-recorded and snapped photos of our journey: sharing the news with Luba, attending appointments, celebrating milestones and living life in between.

I believe capturing our journey gives me a sense of moving forward, of anticipating the victorious sense of looking back, and at the very least preserves precious memories for Luba.

Sharing our journey, specifically and authentically, allows me to help those who may, unfortunately, follow. And distilling overwhelming situations to web-sized chunks helps me get to and focus on their vital core.

Juice veggies
As gag-inducing as these morning concoctions are, the ritual of selecting, chopping, juicing and somehow ingesting a whack of fresh vegetables every morning makes me feel like a healthiness hero.

My daily juice includes beet, carrot, celery, ginger, swiss chard, lemon and, if I have it, bok choy, broccoli or cauliflower. Powerful veggies but possibly more powerful superstition.

Daily juicing of fresh cut wheat grass is a salubrious luxury that I only wish I could afford to keep up forever.

Embrace temporary baldness
Our head-shaving party (video) helped me take control of my impending hair loss and enter temporary baldness with a resounding sense of support, victory and even joy.

Choosing funky, friend-infused hand-made hats over wigs and baring it all when temperatures permitted, gave me the comfort, freedom, acceptance and playfulness that I don’t think hiding under a wig could.

Supplement Vitamin D3, Curcumin, Vitamin C, Resveratrol and Green Tea Extract — and drink lots of Matcha
I’ve tried a tonne of supplements during this journey, but after reading numerous books and articles (and not retaining the details of any) this is the handful I’m left feeling starve cancer best.

This feeling is far from scientific. I’m sharing it, anyway.

Reboot me
I’m so grateful that I have taken this time to examine my life, my thinking, my habits, relationships, choices and outlook — trying to toss out what wasn’t working and deliberately striving for new patterns.

My daily practices of gratitude and forgiveness have been far from perfect, but I feel lighter than my old self, and I feel much better about myself and my world.

Celebrate every victory and milestone
Ever since that lump turned up, we’ve been pulling our way through time by anticipating the celebration of milestones and victories, big and small.

When there is something to look forward to, life is good.

I’m so grateful that, as a family, we look for and find these things.

The Bad: I’m glad I chose not to…

Regularly consume sugar, white flour and other simple carbs
Research shows, high GI foods, such as sugar, white flour, potatoes and white rice, trigger hormones such as insulin and IGF growth factor which, in turn, lead to inflammation and cancer growth.

Since sugar, unlike dairy, offers close to no nutrition, I ended up deciding to mostly do sugar socially. Way easier than giving up coffee (which also raises insulin levels). I’m glad I did.

Work during chemo, radiation and hormone therapy ramp-up
Yes, I probably could have worked during a good part of my treatment. And, yes, a lot of people do it.

I’m glad I decided not to. For me, the personal benefits of focusing completely on healing far out-weighed the financial benefits of working. I’m thankful for Mark’s job and that we all made adjustments to make it work.

Hide my situation from our daughters — or myself
None of us know what’s ahead of us.

And we always hope for the best.

But we’ve been honest with ourselves and our girls since the very beginning of this journey. And I’m glad of that.

Venture into public places during chemo
It was inconvenient, isolating and not absolutely essential, but avoiding public places for 18 weeks was a tiny price to pay to avoid the colds, flus or H1N1 viruses that may have stretched out my treatment — or worse.

My chemo-cocooning gave me time to exercise, reflect, create and, most important, heal. And it protected me from the world I had yet to find my new spot in.

Choose the attitude of fighter or invalid
I didn’t choose cancer. But I do get to choose my attitude.

There are lots of options.

I’ve been happy with mine.

The Ugly: I wish I hadn’t…

Fought so hard for bilateral mastectomy
I left my first post-diagnosis appointment absolutely adamant to remove both breasts. I remained so for three full weeks.

After several late night phone calls, and just days before my long-awaited surgery, my fabulous surgeon made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I reluctantly agreed to a lumpectomy.

Turned out cancer had reached all 3 sentinal lymph nodes and recurrence could be anywhere. Removing my breasts wouldn’t have helped.
I am so grateful for Dr. Lorimor’s perseverence and care.

Wasted energy on impossible relationships
My diagnosis and publicly shared journey gave me opportunities to reconnect with long lost friends and relatives, near and far. Those renewed relationships have enriched our lives.

My diagnosis also gave me an excuse to work on some very broken family relationships. But after wasting precious energy and effort, they’re right back where they started — or worse. I should have put that energy into worthwhile relationships and healing.

Bothered with daily Flor-Essence Herbal Tea
During much of my treatment, I bought this pricey powder, followed the 24hour brewing and straining procedures then woke up earlier than I otherwise would have each morning so I could prepare it, drink it and wait 30 minutes before I could eat or drink anything else.

I have no idea whether this or any of my practices did me any good, but this one was inconvenient and costly and I eventually gave it up.

Neglected my protein intake
Chemo eats away at muscle mass but I had hoped that by jogging, walking and doing strengthening exercises throughout my treatment, I would keep my muscles strong.

Turns out, my plan should have included more protein.
I ended up with two sets of tennis elbow and a brutal case of plantar fasciitis, which worsened after chemo ended and has prevented me from jogging ever since. Live and learn.

Deprived myself of coffee and dairy
I did not sleep one wink the night I received my diagnosis. And I guess, at that time, I figured I’d never sleep again. So, I cut out coffee. Cold turkey.

Four months later, I realized delicious coffee was a treat I deserved. No great loss, I know. But enjoying a delicious coffee treat makes me feel like me, so I wish I’d relented sooner.

As for dairy, it has a pretty bad reputation in certain circles, but with chemo-induced menopause and bone-robbery, skipping dairy was one of my stupider choices.

Sorry for this absurdly long post. I wanted it to be a one-stop shop for anyone who may need it.



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 September 12, 2010

September 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm.

7 comments

Published Pride

Lucy and Bayla wrote and submitted an article to our very local paper, last month. We’re proud to announce, that article was published today.

Here it is:

On October 6th, 2009, our mother, Andrea Sue Ross, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, less than eleven months later, we have already raised $3,500 almost $5,500 for ‘Run For the Cure’ of which our mom is a proud and worthy participant.

Through 2 surgeries, 1 MRI, ultra sounds, radioactive injections, mammograms, biopsies, a port-a-cath installation, 6 chemo treatments and 30 days of radiation our mom has hardly complained at all. Now, well into hormone therapy, our mom is only four years away from being “officially” a cancer survivor. Though in our opinion someone who has made it this far IS a survivor because you have to be really strong to have the confidence, courage, compassion and over all the perseverance that it takes to kick cancer’s butt. Our mom is strong. Our mom is confident, courageous and compassionate. Our Mom perseveres.

Our mom kicked cancer’s butt. So can you. You can help weather it’s by donating money to help find a cure, supporting a friend with cancer, or, if you to are, or will be, a cancer survivor then telling your story and inspiring others. YOU can make a difference.

Our mom is running for the cure. You can to.

Find more about our journey at WeCanRebuildHer.com



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 September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm.

8 comments

Picking A Productive Perspective

When your happiness depends on what somebody else does or does not do, you’re trapped, because you cannot control what they think or what they do.

You will discover a true liberation, a freedom beyond your wildest drams, when you discover that your joy does not depend on anyone else. Your joy only depends on what you choose to give your attention to.

Sarah, Book 1, Esther and Jerry Hicks, 1995. Hay House Inc.



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea September 9, 2010

September 9, 2010 at 4:39 pm.

1 comment

Happiness Is…

Life.



More Happiness here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea September 8, 2010

September 8, 2010 at 10:30 am.

2 comments

All is well

I’m just back from my first post-treatment mammogram and ultrasound.

And all is well. Woooohooooo!!

I learned a lot today:

  • That I have two staples in my right breast (!).
  • That my enlarged right breast may be a delayed reaction of radiation (?).
  • That the constant snapping of photos during the ultrasound is not necessarily a bad sign.
  • That no matter how unbelievably terrified I am during the tests, all the terror can be wiped away in an instant by a happy, happy result.

Happy, happy day!

Thank you to everyone whose good wishes got me through this week and to this happy, happy result.

Woooooohooooooo!!!



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 September 7, 2010

September 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm.

20 comments

Happy School Year to All

We had the honour of escorting two beautiful young ladies to school today.

There was lots of excitement on the playground — happy reunions and fresh starts.

Hoping this school year brings good health and much happiness for your family and ours.



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 September 7, 2010

September 7, 2010 at 9:28 am.

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Fine-tuning Our Futures

In December 2008, we created our first family vision boards: cruising through magazines, cutting and pasting our wishes and dreams, creating colourful collages to help keep us focused on what really counted.

My wishes at that time centred mostly on good health, happiness, peace, podcasting, prosperity, recreation, renewal and exercise. On many a beautiful day, glances at that board reminded me to choose x-country skiing or cycling with Lucy and Bayla, over vegging or chores.

We didn’t create vision boards in 2009.
When we pulled out our magazines this weekend to create our September 2010 Vision Boards, I was stunned to see the clippings that hadn’t made that 2008 cut: a huge, red “Be Brave”; an innocent-looking “Ready for Anything”.

Little did I know.

Our collages are dependent, of course, on what we can find and clip. Images of affection, creativity and peace were tougher to find this year. And the colours this round are decidedly cooler.

But glancing at the two versions, I can’t help noticing: where the last one whispered, this year’s screams.

Health, healing, harmony, life, love, ease, peace, prosperity, exercise and joy.

Envisioning lots of it for all of us. For many years to come.



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 September 6, 2010

September 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm.

1 comment

From the Mouth of Bayla # 28 : a summer of reading

This summer we have read:

  • If You’re Reading this it’s too Late
  • Manolito Four Eyes #1
  • Manolito Four Eyes #2
  • Manolito Four Eyes #3
  • Leo and the Lesser Lion
  • Holes
  • The Unearthly Asylum
  • Sara Book #1
  • Sara Book #2
  • Elijah of Buxton
  • Zombiekins
  • Kenny and the Dragon
  • The Higher Power of Lucky
  • After Hamelin

I really liked all of them but I have to say that After Hamelin was one of my  top favourites. I think you should read them.



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

Bayla Posted by Bayla September 4, 2010

September 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm.

4 comments

TMI

This time last year, my right breast was huge.

I didn’t think much of it, as the imbalance first occurred during my five years of constant breast-feeding (including 8 months of breastfeeding both of our little ones).

As this CT scan image makes obvious, my right breast became the smaller of the two following my surgeries last fall.

I was told that radiation would make it even smaller — and I’m pretty sure it did.

In the past few of weeks, though, that right breast has ballooned right up to its pre-surgery size. Despite my chemo-induced menopause and my estrogen-gobbling tamoxifen.

And I’m scared. Scared enough to have cancer-dreams (of which I’d had almost none). Scared enough to bump my mammogram and ultrasound up to Tuesday and beg my oncologist for speedy viewing and reporting of my results.

Tuesday, September 7, will be Luba’s first day back to school and I’m certainly hoping to enjoy these last few free-range days.

Still, Tuesday (and the day I get my happy, happy results!) can’t get here fast enough.



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 September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010 at 7:24 am.

16 comments

$5148 and counting

Two days ago, Paul and Sheri topped up Andrea’s Run for the Cure fundraising efforts, pushing her to $4000 — her goal at the time. That’s when we discovered Andrea was the third highest fundraiser in Ottawa.

We announced the milestone on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, asking for help to put Andrea in the pole position for fundraising in Ottawa.

At this moment, Andrea is second overall in the city with sponsorship of $5,148!!! That’s incredible. And yet, there’s still opportunity to be part of fundraising history by making Andrea the number one fundraiser for the first time in her life.

If your name isn’t on this list, sponsor Andrea and help make history. You have 29 days left.

Huge, huge thank yous to:

Glen McGregor
Carla Howatt
Anne Wiltshire
Jan Annino
Zetta Elliot
Mitch Joel
Sue Murphy
Carolyn Dittburner
Linda Corsini
Corinne Demas
Kaveh Adel
Heather Jopling
Lee Edward Fodi
Snookie & Norman Lomow
Sheree Fitch
Pam Hunter
Anita Neubert
Bob Goyetche
Kevin Chouinard
Evelina Vezarov
Heather Duggan
Mare Swallow
Todd and Christie Bastianon
Ana-Maria Popescu
Lori-Ann, Curtis & Olivia
Laura Bergen
Paul & Sheri Goulet
Kelly Clavette
Todd Tyrtle
Heidi Estrin
Dave Fleet
Eden Spodek
Esmé Codell
Anthony Marco
Angela Misri
Troy Wilson
The Waters Family
Alvina Ling
Katie Davis
Hugh McGuire
Mark Tafoya
Miranda McCurlie
Isabelle Michaud
Liz Murray
Jim Puckalo
Dwayne Melançon
Tamir Israel
Jennifer Johnston
Shari Greenspan
Phenix Dental Clinic Team
The Sinanan Family
Carol Grannick
Coreen Corcoran
Rich Cantrell
Patricia Kahn
Sriram Venkatarman
Stacey MacNevin
Ebony Haywood
Joan Buzick
Tanglewood Books
Mary Antolovich
Jay Schmidt
Daniele Rossi
The Bonsall/Small Family
Joanne Lennon
Greg & Andree O’Donnell
Betti Stiff
Cher & Mo Willems
The Giassa/Whammond Family
Whitney and John Hoffman
Barbara Reid-Crysler
Geoffrey Butler
Bert and Rhoda Blevis
Armeda Vanderwoude
Wilf and Barb Clavette
Clare Rogers
Denise Doyen
Garry and Kathi Tysick
Stephanie Calmenson and Mark Goldman
Carol Heyer
Diane Greenseid
Cathy Arneson
Nancy Pevey
Lane Smith and Molly Leach
William Flanagan
Orit Fruchtman
Diane DeGroat
Sally Ito
Hugh Brewster
Paul Zelinsky
Tania Carriere & Gerry Gaetz
Marla Frazee
Bob Ledrew
Tanya Snook
Robert McCarty
Richard Christie
Chris Brogan
Tom Tentoglou
Mary Lee Hahn
The Gupta/Gustyn Family
Andrew Quayle



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 September 2, 2010

September 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm.

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