Revisiting the past 

I have been focusing on finishing a coherent account of my cancer journey.

However it’s challenging to revisit past and all the junctions where life could have changed for better, where I could have had a more hopeful outcome and documenting difficult times.

That has been the reason for not writing new blogs. I am doing okay so far and am on the second cycle of Xeloda. Hair is sprouting back and a few eye brows here and there. But I know very well that they may not stay and it may soon be back to the chemo pole.

I am still on three weekly Herceptin infusions where I am routinely reminded of the reality of my life.

Meanwhile I am squeezing life out of every moment possible. I have many side effects but whatever I can manage, I do. The rest I pretend that they don’t exist.

I am looking forward to fall and for my salted caramel mochas. Kids are back in school and adjusting well.

My husband and I live in optimistic denial often but of course the thoughts of what the next scans will show linger.

I have had treatments in the last year that have failed to combat cancer progression effectively. 

I could sure use some actual hope evident on my scans. A little more than my internal resilience but actual real improvement would be nice to see.

I keep my fingers crossed.

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I still have time

Progression was seen on scans. This chemo regimen did not do the job!

As a physician patient, I clearly understand what it means to have metastatic cancer. When I was first diagnosed with metastasis, that’s when I started to grieve what this illness will do to my life. It was then that I suffered the most. Over the time since April 2016, I have remained focused on my life goals and taking nothing for granted. I have and am doing things that I love and enjoy. I meet people and strengthen my relationships. I have unloaded many things that don’t matter any more, people, thoughts, actual things.
I am at peace with what I am doing and where I am. I have no complaints. I truly have had a very good life and I know that I have made a difference.

So whatever is supposed to come next, I am willing to accept. I will however remain focused on quality vs quantity. And there are treatment options yet but I am blowing through them rather quickly. That’s what happens, in a downward course, options fail and then there isn’t anything left to try. For me it could be in the next three months or another two years. Only time will decide.

And yes, before you talk about anyone being hit by a bus, I could also be hit by the bus.

This doesn’t mean I have no hope, it just means that I appraise my reality well based on scientific evidence. And yes miracles do happen but if they happened for everyone , we would call them standard treatment not miracles.

My time and sense of wellness remains my most valuable asset .

I have goals to accomplish and things to do yet.

Thank you for the massive outpouring of support and I can tell you that I slept well last night WITHOUT having to take a sleep aid. I was prepared for results. I am certainly disappointed but I am not crushed. I just know I still have time.

Left Boob Gone Rogue, The Book

July 15th, 2017 :We have all heard the phrase, “Life can change in a moment!” But we don’t truly believe it until it happens! 

For me that moment happened exactly four years ago today. July 15th, 2013.

Yes, a phone call and awkward pause and an apology. And my life changed in a way that was hard to comprehend and even harder to live. It has been a long four years, full of challenges , suffering and unusual human interaction. With life lessons at every corner and opportunities to reflect and make sense of the clock that is constantly ticking.

Having heard the sentence, now twice, that I have cancer, here I am. Bald, tired but full of appreciation of life. With your support I have chronicled my journey and today I wish to share this news with you that this year , I look forward to having my book, ” Left Boob Gone Rogue” in your hands.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, ” You should write a book!”

Well I have done that ( almost )

I am in the final phase of this project. I have dealt with major set backs as you all know but giving up has never been an option. Finishing a book during chemotherapy is a challenge in itself!

My biggest fear has been cancer infiltrating my brain and taking away my capacity to think and write. It sat on my skull for months checking out the terrain.

Now that my MRI has been reported and the brain looks ok ( for now) in the next three months I will be devoting all my time and energy to make this book a reality for me and for you.

” Left Boob Gone Rogue” is my story of persisting in face of relentless breast cancer and the suffering it entails.

There will be lots more details coming but I wanted to share this today with you, on my four year cancer anniversary that I persisted.

I am grateful for the love and encouragement from all of you that gives me the confidence to pursue my writing seriously and move forward!

Here is to four years of living with cancer, not just surviving but truly living! To moving forward and to conquering fears!

Much love ❤️ Uzma Yunus

The day I felt ugly!

I took this photo on the day I was feeling ugly.
Yes, I felt un-feminine and ugly that morning. I felt sad. The night before I had shaved a handful of hair still #persisting on my scalp despite two cycles of chemotherapy. I was unsure if I would have hair again in my life time given my diagnosis of stage four incurable cancer. I wondered if I would die bald, I wondered if I was done with having hair forever. With those thoughts , I had grabbed my husband’s electronic razor and shaved my hair off. It needed to be done . Fall had arrived on my scalp and I needed to accept. The next morning I looked at myself, trying to accept that I am bald Again for the second time. My eye lashes were sparse and there was only a faint shadow of my brows. My body that had been used to being toned and fit seemed flabby. All around I felt ugly and undesirable. I thought about the toll cancer had taken on my body and how bit by bit it had stolen from me.

In my anger and rebellion , I got dressed, pulled out my make up and started to use it. I put on fake lashes, painted brows and put on bright lipstick . I told myself ” Gosh darn it , even if I feel ugly, I won’t look ugly”.

An hour later, I was taking selfies all over the house. 

Sometimes, it’s not easy to accept life the way it’s unfolding in front of you but I have found that it is necessary to stare back at it and give it a good scare.

And yes, I may have felt ugly that day, but I made myself pretty. And yes external beauty is superficial but it does matter or there wouldn’t be a billion dollar beauty industry.

I wanted to share this because I want you to know that I am not impermeable and there are many times when I feel vulnerable.

I just end up fighting back, getting up and try to fix the problem I face.

As a smart psychiatrist once said, 

” The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Psychiatrist, Author
Here is the picture from the day I felt ugly! 

Maintaining your sanity on social media-2

I have practiced psychiatry for almost 20 years. I have helped people learn and understand things about themselves as a profession. Change takes time and patience as well as introspection and willingness.Social media has changed our ways of coping and understanding things so has increased ability to communicate through text and internet.

We are becoming more and more reactive as a society and are generally losing our ability to be patient and focus on things. We are compelled to constantly react to stimuli thrown at us and we are forced to respond in this online life of ours. The actions are immediate and reactions are immediate. We are changing as a whole in how we process things around us and how we respond to them.

We react before we have all the facts , form opinions based on knee jerk reactions. This is leading to great emotional volatility and stress. 

We while we embrace technology must remain aware that we have a choice about what to allow in and what to shut off, what we need to respond to and what we don’t . We still have choice and discretion. Just because it’s accessible doesn’t mean it’s permissible .

It feels like the whole world is losing their mind sometimes and it’s partly because of this ready access to news and ideas and reactions to them in millions.

People get agitated over minor issues and lose their tempers. Because they are emotionally exhausted and spent having used up their resources over issues they barely have control over . 

Like a smoldering ember ever ready to catch fire. Talking about controversial things is charming and exhausting. At the end of the day, if you don’t learn from the discourse , it’s just wasted time.

Swearing like an idiot does not make anyone look dignified! It’s easy to make a fool of yourself by seeking attention but that would fill the void you seek to fill.
Maintain your sanity , don’t react to everything !
Be kind to yourself !

Diet Crazy: A rant

 

I dream of a pasture of kale with a dusting of quinoa and chia seeds in which I roll in as I swing my long luscious hair in them. There are fountains of pomegranate juice that splash the goodness over me, I lick a drop off of my finger. I wear organic cotton clothes and my T shirt says GMO free, BPA free, free, free , free. I am the free range cancer patient gallivanting through a chemical free world. When I get hungry , I just graze on the kale and spinach near by. The lamb and sheep and chicken run with me since I am this blissful vegetarian and all animals are my friends. I eat only as much as I need. There is a waterfall of carrot juice that I sip from. My world is free of chemotherapy and other nonsense that doctors and big pharma try to push in my world. I have found the cure that they are hiding for their profits.  I run for exercise and I bathe in sunlight. I explore the majesty of nature and embrace the gift of my cancer as I chant “om” over and over again. You must think that this is what my life must become, right? This should be what I should do to “beat” cancer?

 

NOT!

 

Wake up you moron! You need more science in your life!  Is this what you think a cancer patient should be doing?

 

Seriously for Pete’s sake stop asking me what I eat. Yes I have been diagnosed with cancer twice but it DOESNOT mean that cancer is because of kale or quinoa deficiency. Take your Skinny Trader Joe ass out of my face and move on. I have to go to an appointment. My doctor waits for me, yes that person who actually studied for many years about the intricacies of the human body and actually know a thing or two about how cancers evolve. No, I am not interested in your street corner chiropractic rant about Goji berry juice mixed with some back fixing. Go away, you and your advice . Go take a shower in your noni juice and while you are at it rub some aloe or whatever sick ass herb you think I should be taking.

 

Go away with your judgmental attitude and thoughts about how I brought this upon my own self and take you and your self occupied interest of why I got cancer, with you. If you want to know, go find a research lab so you can help all of us who are stuck in the cancer world. I am so tired of your questions.

 

No, cancer does not need body to be acidic or alkaline. Its a myth that has been debunked over and over and again. Our bodies manage the ph of our bodies very effectively on their own.

 

 Why don’t you take two tablespoons of baking soda every night so you don’t get cancer and or better yet, go soak in some base if you know what that is.

 

I believe in complimentary care, using mindful healthy eating and exercising and keeping the weight normal.  Believe me cancer patients existed before kale became a thing in the US and still exist after. These dietary fads are just that. There is no empirical data that puts kale at the helm of cancer destruction any more than spinach or collard greens. The idea is to eat a good amount of green leafy vegetables for everyone with or without cancer. Green juice is no magical cure. Anything that 16 I/V chemo infusions could not kill, your stupid kale smoothie wont, it just won’t.

 

A lot has to be said about good diet and eating in moderation. Smoked and grilled meats are considered to increase cancer risk. A good diet is balanced with good protein, vegetables and fruits.

 

Unfortunately because I didn’t “beat” cancer and live with stage 4, there will always be some woman who was fortunate with early stage cancer and survived (believe me I am so happy for you) who will keep on pandering her warped ideas about food and diet and people will listen because she survived. And she will never tell you how much medical treatment she did and what medications she took because that does not sell. Only the diet crazy stuff!

 

Sleeping in my own bed

It is such a nice feeling to be in your own bed. Hospital beds with their crackly plastic pillows and amazingly slippery nature are beds only in name. It feels like they conspire against you to slide you out slowly when you start up top and gradually you are wedging your heals helplessly to not slide down to the foot rest. They can turn a person into a clasp knife with their buttons and you feel like a man eating plant is about to suck you in. Having been in the hospital for three days including one stint of almost 12 hours on an ER gurney has made me appreciate the try blessing ones own bed is. The sheets are soft almost in keeping to your required level of touch and the pillow aren’t trying to create weird angles between your neck and body. I can’t stand superfull round pillows which prop my neck too much. Also because my incision is right on the back of my head it prevents me from lying on my back. So here I am so very thankful warm in my own bed, grateful to have this moment of comfort tonight. There are challenges that lurk in the back ground but for tonight my goal is a good night’s sleep , a luxury many can only dream of.So I submit my self to it gladly and wish you a very good night too.

Uzma Yunus ( Status post craniotomy aka cutting open of the noggin’ on 04/07/2017)