Foley and Corinna goes vegan!!

I am so excited! Foley and Corinna was one of my favourite designers for many years, about three years ago I finally sucked it up and bought myself one of their bags as a gift to myself. One of the hardest things when I went vegan was to stop using it, but I did.

Today I want to walk around Vaughan Mills for a little while, and was looking at handbags in Saks off fifth. I noticed that Foley and Corinna now has a new cruelty free line!

I bought the black one, which is very similar to the bag I had before and loved so much!

I just googled and it’s better than I thought, their entire line is being changed to cruelty free.

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2 years ish

It is now more than two years since I was diagnosed with cancer, soon I will reach the two-year anniversary of when I started and then finished chemo, and then started and finished radiation.

Most people assume, this far out, that I must be fine. Back to normal. Especially considering that I did not have a mastectomy, my surgery was pretty non-invasive, and I haven’t needed reconstruction or anything like that.

Unfortunately, they would be wrong. There are still lots of ways that I am not back to normal, not even close:

-Memory is shot. I lose and forget everything. Yesterday my iPhone was stolen because I forgot it in the table or in the bathroom at Starbucks. I lost the remote to our TV. I threw out an envelope forgetting it contained $500. Nothing happens without lists and reminders. Chemobrain is real.

-My eyes are a mess. I was reading about somebody getting laser eye surgery today (which I have always wanted considering I’ve worn glasses since I was three years old, but my prescription has always changed every year or two), and realized that my prescription has changed three times since chemotherapy, and I can already tell it’s going to change again soon. I’m pretty sure my dream of having laser eye surgery is officially gone. Maybe it wasn’t going to happen anyway, but after the way cancer treatment has impacted my eyes, definitely it isn’t.

-I have horrible insomnia. It’s not emotional it’s a physical/hormonal response to menopause (began immediately after the anesthesia from my ovary removal wore off). In the past when I had insomnia it was mainly emotional and I could deal with it with therapy and meditation and stuff like that, maybe a mild herbal medication or tea. Now, it doesn’t matter how tired I am or how relaxed I am or if I mainline chamomile tea, I simply do not sleep unmedicated. I alternate three different prescription medications, and I’m scared all the time of what happens when they stop working. Also needing medication to sleep is hard on my private life. I have to take it by a certain time to be not too groggy in the morning, but that means that my nighttime activities are pretty curtailed and I’m often passed out right around the time that I would like to start watching Netflix (or chilling). I don’t want to be addicted to sleeping pills for the rest of my life, but I also cannot let myself not sleep. I know other people that gone through this and have sucked it up, but I cannot. Not only is being sleep deprived miserable, my job requires a lot of driving and it would be dangerous.

-I cannot donate blood. I have always prided myself on someone who donates blood regularly. Now I cannot, for five years after finishing chemo. That’s very upsetting to me, it’s something that I’ve always believed in and love to do. It breaks my heart to see blood drives and things like that and not be able to participate.

-I have still not gotten my physical strength or stamina back. Sometimes that doesn’t bother me since I don’t want to work out as hard as I used to, but sometimes it does because I can’t even work out as hard as I do want to. I miss being strong and fit and I don’t know how I ever get it back. Sometimes it feels like it’s back on track, but then I hit a wall and spiral backwards and have to start all over again.

-My right shoulder and under arm have never recovered from my surgery. I have reduced strength and range of motion there. I know I should go to physiotherapy for it, but I’m of sick of appointments (and getting time off for them is not always easy) and don’t want to make any more of them. So I guess this is my own fault.

-Although I did not have a mastectomy, my right breast is badly scarred and significantly smaller than the other one. I have looked into reconstruction to get it fixed, but there aren’t any really great options for me so I just have to live with it. I’m lucky that it doesn’t show when I am dressed, but the reminder is always there in the mirror when I’m not.

-The fear of recurrence never goes away. It’s a permanent little pit of anxiety in my stomach that leaves me breathless with every new ache, pain, or mark. A few weeks ago my oncologist diagnosed eczema!

-Emotionally, I’m still a mess. I don’t know if it’s because of menopause, or because the trauma of having gone through cancer, or those combined, or those things combined with with some other craptastic things that have happened in my life over the last few years, or what, but I am more emotional than ever (and I have never been a particularly unemotional person). I feel like I’m in a constant state of PMS. I cry easily, I get angry easily, I am emotionally reactive all the time. I’ve pushed people away that I wish I hadn’t…and yet I have a hard time trying to pull them back, because I wish they recognized what a hard time I’ve had and cared about me enough to want to pull me back. It breaks my heart that they don’t.

I know people will read this and think that I’m just lucky to be alive, lucky that I was cured (at least for now), lucky that I kept my breasts. I get that; I am lucky. It could be far worse. However, that knowledge doesn’t make the problems I am left with any less real.

November! 

It’s November, which means it’s birthday month! Less than two weeks and I will be 44 years old.

I’ve decided this month it’s all about me! Probably not in the way people are anticipating. I don’t mean spoiling myself and having fun (although of course I want to have fun!). I mean taking care of myself!I need to get certain things in my life back on track, so I will be.

1. I’m going to get back into exercise. Not that I’ve ever exactly been out of it, but I’ve been walking a lot and not doing enough cardio or strength training. I don’t want to be the way I was before, working my butt off all the time (I do not have the stamina or desire for that), but I do want to be fitter and stronger than I am now. I want to get back to my yoga practice, strength training do cardio a few times a week. I want to keep it up, until I’m 45 and beyond!

2. I need to get my diet back on track. Not that it’s been horrible, but I’ve definitely been indulging too much in fried and sugary food.  

3. I’m going to work harder at getting my kids to bed, or at least in their own rooms, earlier so that I have more time to relax on my own, and with my husband. We’ve gotten very lazy about letting them hang out with us until it’s our bedtime too, and that’s not good self-care, nor is it good marriage-care. I don’t care that they go to sleep late; they’re healthy, happy, and not sleep deprived, but I do care about having our own time and a quiet, relaxing bedroom before I try to go to sleep.

4. I think I mentioned in a previous post, but I am returning to therapy. I’ve had a lot of stressful traumatic situations over the past few years, and haven’t really dealt with any of them properly, I just kept pushing through. Although I seem happy, I’m not (I’m not depressed, but I’m not happy. I fake a lot). I’m overwhelmed and anxious a lot, and need to get that under control.

Here I am, at the beginning of November 2017, I wonder how I will look  by the end?  Not that I’m trying to change how I look, just that I feel that inner peace brings outer beauty. I currently feel like I look brittle, old, and tired.

Curly girl

Remember that time I stopped straightening my hair after years of straightening it, and learned how to wear it naturally curly? It took a long time to get it the way I like to consistently, and I had to change it a few times, but by the time I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I was in love with my hair!

I’ve had hair again for over a year now, but I’ve been straightening it because it’s been too short to wear curly. I’ve worn it wavy a couple times, or let it go curly when I was staying home, but I’ve been pretty consistently blow drying it straight.

Until last week, last week on a whim I decided to use my old curly girl method. I conditioned my hair, scrunched some mousse into it, plopped it on top of my head in a towel, and then blow dried it with a diffuser. 


I’m really pleased with the results! Not only does it look decent, but I can actually do second day hair…on  the second day I just spritzes it with some water and scrunching it with the blow dryer for minute. 

Of course, it doesn’t really look the way I want it to, I think I will like it much more when it is chin length and then longer… But it looks good enough so I am faking it until I make it!!! 

2 years later 

Two years ago today was the day I was diagnosed with cancer. 

Since then, I’ve had several friends, acquaintances, and relatives diagnosed with cancer and other serious illnesses. It’s heartbreaking. 

Life lessons, after two years of knowledge and experience:

1. Cancer is horrible, but it’s not a death sentence. Not right away anyway (and for many survivors, never). No matter what happens, live your life the best you can as often as you can. No matter how bad things get, there are always good things, if you look for them and let yourself enjoy them. 

2. Take care of your health. Sure you can do everything right and still get sick, but how much sicker would you be if you did everyone everything wrong? Nobody knows for sure. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a sacrifice, it’s a gift to yourself. 

3. Know your body (not just breasts), seek answers when something seems wrong, and don’t stop seeking answers until you got them. Lumps, bumps, changes in color, injuries that don’t heal, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, illnesses (or symptoms) that don’t go away…all of these can be indications of cancer or other serious illnesses. They probably won’t be, but they could be.  Finding out you have cancer is horrible and scary, but if you do the sooner you find out, the better treatment options there are. 

4. Choose who and what you give your time and energy to carefully. Life can change on a dime, life can end in a moment. Do you really want to be spending your time, energy, and attention on things and people that do not deserve it, or do not make you happy? Sometimes, there is no choice (at these times, work to put up boundaries and build coping skills)…but when there is a choice, unapologetically choose what is best for you.

Two years ago today was also the day I lost my precious princess, my first baby,  my special kitty. I still miss her every day: