Friday, July 27, 2012


good reminder

As many of you know, I started a new job this week.  This job - so far - seems absolutely perfect for me.  It's part-time, non-profit, working with incredibly accomplished colleagues, coaching teachers in and around the city.  The past few days I've been getting oriented to the principles of the organization and undergoing some meaningful training along with 8 other new hires, both from Philadelphia as well as a few other cities.

I think a lot of cancer survivors struggle - upon returning to work or changing their professional directions - with how and when to disclose survivorship.  Will people think less of you?  Will your employer worry about your ability to perform the required duties?  Will you receive equal or fair treatment from others?  For me, of course this wasn't a topic of discussion during my interviews, or a part of me I felt willing to share with my co-workers during lunchtime conversations.  It's a rather large meatball to drop onto a stranger's plate.

This morning, we entered into Day 3 of our training.  Our new presenter assumed (correctly) that we were "name tagged" out (all you educators out there will know what I mean), and she simply asked us to write down one unique thing about ourselves on a colored 3x5 card.  I struggled to think of the perfect idea - I enjoy crafting, knitting, sewing, traveling, mothering, beaching, reading... but none of these seemed particularly out of the ordinary.

Then I remembered I am a writer, too.  Not that there aren't OODLES of self-proclaimed/blog writers out there, but it is something I enjoy that may set me apart a smidge.  Anyway, on my card, I wrote simply, "I write a blog."  Wouldn't that be enough?

Turns out, no, all eyes on me, expectantly waiting for me to elaborate.  Blog?  What about?

Game time.  To reveal or not?

I chose to disclose.  I spoke quickly, spitting out the bare minimum details, cheeks flushing, and the reception was warm. But still, I was thinking it was a mistake.  TMI, right?

A few hours later, when we went to take a morning break, a co-worker came up to reveal something personal of her own.  We made a great connection.  And even later at lunch, my new friends were asking for details, and another revealed her father begins chemo for lymphoma next week.  Another connection was made with someone whose mother was diagnosed with a rare cancer (caused by toxins in her school, ahem).  And yet another person explained how she had been dealing with an autonomic nervous system disorder (like mine) since her mid-20s.

Wiki-London 2012
Wow.  I was blown away (both by others' willingness to share and by how close EVERYONE is to stupid cancer), and also a little disappointed that it was our last day together as this little group because only 3 of us are local.  But I learned a super valuable lesson.  Opening yourself up can encourage others to do the same.  In hindsight, I'm so glad my game time decision turned out to be a good one.  Taking risks is not easy, but it can pay.

To all of the risk-taking athletes across the pond, Happy Summer Olympics!

P.S. Unsure of how to talk to someone recently diagnosed with cancer?  WATCH.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Busy Living

Where have you been? [you might be wondering]

As the stupid cancer folks are known to say, I'm busy living.  

There was that c-razy Facebook/Jewish Exponent contest, which, by the way, we won (thanks to all of our fantastic friends and family who liked the photo AND shared it with total strangers far and wide, asking them to like the photo, too).  

Oh, yeah, then there was that new job I was offered (and accepted)..  Guess who's getting business cards??

There's been socializing with wonderful people, 4th of July fireworks for Judah (first time), surviving a brush with hurricane speed winds at the beach, painting and redecorating Judah's bedroom (still not ready for photo tour), visits to new doctors' offices, entertaining Judah during a week off from camp, new acupuncturist, The Amazing Spiderman, and finally selling the white car.

Judah and my favorite founding father

BIG hippo

bye bye miss american pie

initial stages of pasta e fagiole 
Oh, and I found and demolished 2 gray hairs.

ew.  offensive gray hair.
All in all, I'd have to say it's been satisfying to be able to function semi-normally.  Summer heat and Northeastern US humidity are extraordinarily bad for my health (worsened fatigue, shortness of breath, and slightly elevated irritability...), but the opening of a new frozen yogurt place in our neighborhood has been helpful.  

can you guess which one was mine?

Now.  This may look perhaps like ordinary life.  In some ways, it very much is.  Hanging out with your kid, cooking dinner, dealing with typical growing pains of gray hairs.  But what I looked for (and couldn't find) while I was in treatment were the blog posts of what comes next.  For the most part, people are too busy living to come back to their blogs and update.  Plus, the every day stops feeling so monumental.

Psst: I know a secret.  (Most of us in the C club are in on it.)  Every single day can be extraordinary, even when full of vacuuming, carpooling, emptying the dishwasher, walking the dog.  There was a time when just doing one of those things in a day was a feat.  

I think it's valuable to take a minute and be amazed at yourself tonight.  What did you do today that you are proud of?  What might your life look like if you couldn't carry the clean laundry upstairs?  Or handled a kid's exhaustion meltdown?  I've had many a moment in the past few years when I became fiercely angry with my body and felt let down by cells I trusted to keep me safe.  But recently, I've tried to be a little more respectful and appreciative of all that my body unnaturally endured and survived.  I'm still breathing (and presumably, so are you).  And that's a good thing.