Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year in Review

Really Facebook?! You know my top '20 Biggest Moments' from 2012?!

This short phrase that has been sitting on my Facebook home page, begging me to click on it for at least 2 weeks, turned out to be a total bust (pun intended). Here I was contemplating over this concept myself, reflecting back on this year while I kept fluffing it off until a few days ago when curiosity got the best of me.  Finally, I went out on a limb and hovered my curser over that darn phrase... held my breath and..... click!

NOTHING! Seriously. Nothing happened! In fact, all that came up was a blank, white page. Where were my top 20 'Biggest Moments?' Did I not have anything of value for 2012 in Facebook's eyes? Was I not worthy of 20 moments? Did I not deserve to know how Facebook judged my life? Hell, they can supposedly tell me who is looking at my profile and timeline, and promised me 20 big moments for 2012 but then gave me only a blank, white page!

All of this huffing, contemplating and internal strife for nada! All of the avoidance of clicking on what Mark Zuckerberg thought were my top 20, biggest moments of 2012, and I get nothing?!  Well $#%!&! you Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, I've got moments! So, in one last ditch effort, I clicked on that phrase again today and VOILA! Finally, my top 20 moments appeared in a separate timeline. Ex.cept..... there were only 16 and one of them included a shared picture link from a friend who wanted me to see a colorful ad for some gluten-free play doh.

Again, I say to Facebook and to you Mark - REALLY?! Well, I have at least 20 big moments that include more than play doh! In fact, I'll name them right here and now and only keep them to 20 because... well.... I can. And while I think that gluten-free play doh is a really great concept, here are a few notions for your Menlo Park nerds to ponder in your logarithmic minds about my life:

1.   I secured an amazing 'Healing Dream Team' for my health
2.   I wrote 2 grants in my jammies while going through chemo and recovering from major surgery
3.   I made most all of my Christmas gifts this year in between treatments
4.   I helped my nephew chart out his summer plans to work for a minor league baseball team
5.   I helped my pregnant niece figure out what to do for her severe nausea in her first trimester
6.   I endured 6 rounds of chemo in 18 weeks
7.   I returned to work part-time while still going through treatment every 3 weeks
8.   I pulled out of a lymph node biopsy with flying colors
9.   I recovered from a double-mastectomy with stellar strength
10. I recovered from stage I of reconstruction surgery with brut strength and endurance
11. I did laps around the nurses' station in less then 24 hours after both surgeries
12. I returned to seeing a handful of private clients on a weekly basis in between treatments
13. I returned to work 2 weeks after my final reconstruction surgery
14. I wrote a third grant in my jammies just last month
15. I kept up with this blog when there were days when I could barely sit upright
16. I rekindled old friendships
17. I nurtured new and old friendships
18. I kept up with my 'gratitude journal' nearly every night this past year
19. I laughed whenever I could so that I would not cry my eyes out
20. I helped my sweet little doggie cross over to the 'Rainbow Bridge' when I didn't want to let him go

And there you have it Facebook, my top '20 Biggest Moments of 2012!' BOOYAH!! Oh, and Happy New Year to you too!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry! Merry!

The holidays came upon us fast along with the second year of being in the throes of the big 'C' yet again. But, that didn't stop the holiday spirit, parties and the neighbor's annual 'Ugly Christmas Sweater' party that we crashed a couple of Saturdays ago. So, in preparation of our week-long holiday celebration and before leaving for family celebrations in Northern California, we made sure that our own home gave a nod to the big man in the red suit and all that goes with it. Between the reindeer and the wrap-fest, it was a good kickoff to Christmas 2012.

First stop up North was my brother-in-law's house in East Bay, where the theme seemed to be games, games games. From Candy Land to a 2 hour game of Cranium for the grown-ups, this stop was full of fun, food and my 3 1/2 year old nephew making comments during our Christmas meal about my missing eyebrows as he pointed out that everyone at the table had eyebrows until he came to me - "....and you... don't have eyebrows!" Followed up with a toddler laugh a mile long, I simply said - "It's called chemo buddy...and I also lost half of my eye lashes too!" Again, he just stared at me, paused and then let out his cute belly laugh.

After finally arriving to my mom's house in Monterey, we took a couple of hours out of our Christmas day to visit my fab cousin Dee and her family (mom to Chris) one canyon over from my mom's house. Within 5 minutes of arriving, that Barker spirit kicked in and next thing you know, we were at their kitchen table for a 90 minute gingerbread house decorating competition to which the comments started flying as we were all trying to one-up and intimidate each other's creative process. In the end, mine and Hil's house, the 'Swiss Chalet,' won the finale from the four off-site judges (AKA, my family). So, next year, we're getting serious with personalized aprons, special tools and a year of Google-ing some top secret, decorative ideas.

And finally, four days of some much needed R & R at my mom's house was as always, full of wonderful family time, movies, laughter, crocheting and amazing food. My mom put on a great holiday as usual, made sure there was a fire in the fireplace, kept the coffee and tea coming and filled the house and my heart full of love.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Herceptin #12: All In a Day's Work

Get in, get my 'pacman medicine' - get out! Well, not exactly that quick, but that's pretty much the routine these days. This process still takes a few hours but we're definitely getting this down to a science. I do my 'good intentions' at the beginning of each treatment, pose for my personal chemo room paparazzi (Hil!) and negotiate with the chemo nursing staff to slow down the drip a little so I can fit in that all important snooze towards the end of the treatment that I feel coming on. And hats off to Socorro for doing an awesome job and getting the right vein the first go-round. It's been a little challenging lately to get that infusion needle in there on the first try, but the Vein-Gods were on my side this time. Whew and thank you!

As usual for Hil, she spent much of her time taking photos, getting me warm blankets and pillows and helping out the other patients. She is so great with elderly people and the other patients and it shows. I'm sure the chemo nursing staff would love to put her on payroll as a 'Chemo Room Concierge' as she's quite good at it.

It was such a beautiful day, that after Herceptin treatment #12 and before my next medical appointment, we headed over to our favorite park in Santa Barbara for some R & R, a little photog fun for Hil and just some much-needed time with Mother Nature. She was good to us this day and showed her sunny and warm side during our break at the park. The ducks were adorable, the leaves on the trees glorious and the grass smelled wonderful. As Hil always reminds me, it's the simple things in life that fill us up and we left the park that day with both of our emotional tanks full.

Next stop in our full day was a follow-up appointment with my lovely and wonderful plastic surgeon, Dr. Julio Soares. As standard procedure (ahem!), I wait for he and Hil to finish their camera, lenses and F-stop convo before he takes a peek at his skillful work on me. They are so funny in their all-consuming chit-chat about this subject but I've become quite used to it after a year. Plus, Dr. Soares was leaving the next day for a two-week trip to India and he had some pressing questions about lighting. But past that, he was quite pleased with my progress and finally admitted that my case was one of the hardest to date. But aside from that, we were all pleased with the outcome and I for one, am forever grateful to him for not only his skillful work but his level of sensitivity and care.

Driving home at last after a full and productive day. I cannot say enough how extremely grateful I am for this day, my progress, my medical peeps, Hil's love and care and a beautiful sunset. Life is indeed, good to me.