Archive for the ‘cancer’ Category


October 31, 2012

I don’t feel good.  My feet are killing me.  The pain meds aren’t really helping.  So I’ve been stuck in bed all day without my costume (Mom and I had been planning on dressing up as Poppy and Bonkers from a popular local TV program when I was little.


Getting to watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on TV isn’t much of a consolation prize for missing trick-or-treating and the neighborhood party.  At least nobody had the chance to fill my trick-or-treat bag with rocks.


My scrapbook speech

October 26, 2012

Yesterday I gave a speech about the therapeutic benefits of scrapbooking for cancer patients and their caregivers.  I made several demonstration pages to show the different options available for those who take more or fewer pictures and those who feel like spending more or less money and time on their projects.  Here they are:

This is for people who feel too overwhelmed to make all the decisions necessary for making a scrapbook, or who are on a strict budget or who don’t take very many pictures.  It’s a 6×8 slide-in photo album that holds two standard 4×6 photos per page.

This is a picture of me in the hospital in Geneva, wearing the monkey slippers that the nurses loved.  I’ve added a 4×6 piece of cardstock, upon which I wrote the story behind the slippers and the date, and added a few stickers for decorative purposes.  This helps people understand what’s going on in the picture, as well as providing them with a date so they know when the events in the picture occurred.  (I could have added one or two more related photos had I wanted to, as you can tell from the empty photo sleeves.)

For people who do want to do a scrapbook, but who don’t take very many pictures, a 5×7 page with some journaling, a date, decorative photo mats and a decorative border:

For those who would like to put more elements on their pages (either two photos, or a photo, a title, and a journaling box), an 8×8 page:

Or, for people like me who take tons of pictures and like a lot of creative liberty, the most popular and versatile page size (12×12):

(I don’t usually incorporate blurry photos in my pages, but that picture of me and my halo is the only one that was taken.)

And when you have a whole bunch of photos, a 2-page 12×12 spread:

A cover page made with a Xyron sticker machine:


And, finally, a page that I made with the girls who live around the corner (ages 9 and 11):


The card that they wrote for the page:


This is a party idea that my friends came up with — a memory book.  You hold a party for your friends and family, and all the invitees bring one (or more) photos of you or of something that reminds them of you, and on a 4×6 piece of paper upon which they can tell the story behind the picture and (if desired) add some relevant decoration.  This is a photo my friend Lizzie sent in for the project my friends made for me — it’s a picture of us in costume for one of the Russian choir performances during our time at Middlebury.

My foot hurts

September 1, 2012

I guess that if that’s the only complaint I have the day after waking up at 2 am for Gamma knife and then making a 5-hour drive immediately after treatment, then I’m not too poorly off. The foot in question certainly did not keep me from attending synagogue this morning, although I did choose to sit through the service.

24 hours from now my head should be bandage-free…

New haircut

August 30, 2012

Both Mom and I have been complaining that our bangs are too long, so we decided to get our hair cut today (it was either that or wait for two more weeks until I healed from tomorrow’s round of Gamma knife). Here’s how mine came out:

Front view

Side view

I love it!

You know I’m starting to feel better

August 16, 2012

when I start working on my scrapbook again.

I had wanted to finish it during the Olympics (it is an album about my trip to London back in 2004, after all), but I was just too sick. I’m back on track now, though, and I’m over halfway through. Once it’s finished, I’ll have completed the first two volumes for my study abroad year. The third volume will be all the little day trips I took while the university was on strike, and the fourth will be my trip through Normandy, the D-Day beaches, and Mont Saint Michel.

I’m starting to get excited!

We cancelled Gamma Knife

August 13, 2012

I was scheduled to have my sixth Gamma Knife treatment today, but I’m still too sick after almost a week of antibiotics. I can’t breathe at all when I’m lying down flat, and I cough too much to have my head bolted down to the machine. Even though I’d only be in the machine for 20 minutes, it’s still too long.

We’ve got a month full of appointments and out-of-town travel ahead of us, so rescheduling this is going to be an interesting task.

I can’t breathe

August 8, 2012

Less than one month out of the hospital, and I can’t breathe again.

It is a terrifying feeling.  As a child, I was not afraid to die, so long as I didn’t die by suffocation.  Two memories stand out quite vividly — once my cousin held me down in the plastic Care Bears kiddie pool in the back yard (and I refused to ever get in it with her again), and another time in day care the mentally disabled sister of one of the kids wrestled me down to the ground and sat on me.  She was considerably larger and heavier than I, and it seemed that the teacher was out of the room for an eternity before coming back in and helping me.

I’ve been having some allergy problems all summer, but yesterday my mom and stepdad pulled a lot of dusty, mildewy boxes from the attic and from storage and I went from allergies to full-blown bronchitis overnight.  (Yes, I know that some doctors insist that it takes a week to develop an infection, but with me that’s not true.  I go from zero to green slime in 24 hours, and from green slime to pneumonia that requires hospitalization even faster.  I’ve been like that ever since I was in kindergarten.)

So, I can’t breathe.  My arms and legs feel like leaden weights, and moving any muscle makes it burn and scream for oxygen.  I can’t stop coughing.  I have coughed non-stop for the past two years, ever since I was put on a chemo that permanently damaged my lungs.

I am TIRED of this.  And I am frightened.  I just want to be able to breathe.


August 1, 2012

Or cicadas.  Or whatever you want to call them.

They are the bane of my existence.

Once, I used to love them.  When I was a child, their raspy call signaled the coming of the heat of summer, the opening of the public pools, and endless days crawling all over the backyard fence with my best friend Andrea, competing to see who could find and pull off the greatest number of locust shells while arguing over whether Pee-Wee Herman was creepy or not.  (I said he was.  She insisted he wasn’t.  She also insisted that Michael Jackson wasn’t — and was wrong both times.  I had a pretty good feel for people as a kid.)

Now, they just mean that it’s way too hot for someone on chemo to dare to venture outside.  I have a very hard time breathing in the heat.  It saps me of all of my energy.  It makes strange little air bubbles on my arms and my hands, and of course, there is the concern of getting sunburned.

Summer used to be my favorite season, but now I prefer spring and fall.

London 2012

July 27, 2012

Tonight is the Opening Ceremonies for the London Olympics, and I couldn’t be any more excited.

I know this sounds weird, but one of the first things I thought when the doctors told my mom that I only had 6 months to live was “But I don’t want to miss the Olympics!”

Well… now I’m not missing them. 🙂


July 25, 2012

I’ll be giving a speech to my cancer support group during our September meeting about how to preserve positive family memories during cancer by scrapbooking.  I’m excited!