Monday, September 9, 2013

Race For The Cure 2013

Susan G. Komen has taken a bit of a beating over the past year but I'll give them this: they sure know how to throw one hell of a party. I love Race for the Cure!

Today was the perfect blend of gorgeous weather, friendship, charitable giving, sports, a sense of community, and kicking cancer's ass all of which was punctuated by the truly magnificent backdrop of NYC's Central Park. We even got to strike a pose with Senator Chuck Schumer.

I'm sure all Race for the Cure events around the country are highly spirited and well-attended but nothing compares to the energy generated by over 15,000 New Yorkers in the greatest city in the world. I can't describe it. You just have to feel it to get it.  

Team Cool Girls Get Cancer raised $3,062 from 37 supporters. Thank you to everyone for your overwhelming generosity. Next year you'll get your own C.G.G.C shirt if you join the team and run with us!

Finally and most importantly, thank you to the best team ever for making this such a memorable day: Liz, Lisa, Laura, Janet, Karen, Julie, and Andrew!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Here We Go!

Race for the Cure 2012

Tomorrow is the 2013 Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure and the C.G.G.C team has raised over $3,000 from 36 supporters!! I have a great team walking/running with me this year: Liz, Lisa, Laura, Janet, Karen, Julie, and Andrew! Next year we will be more!

I found the above picture of Liz and me on the Komen website taken at last year's race which was only 4 months after surgery. We both wore the C.G.G.C tanks that I had made and mine barely fit over the tissue expanders. They were odd-shaped, out of proportion, and rested so high up on my chest I swear sometimes I could taste them. I also didn't realize that I wouldn't or couldn't wear a sports bra and it was quite a challenge fitting 2 other tank tops underneath in order to provide a little more coverage and psychological protection. I'll make sure to do a post on the kinds of sports bras I now wear when I run.

Spoiler Alert: Target!

There's still time to donate to the team (even after the race is over) by clicking on the link below:

Check back later for race day pictures!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fat Graft Liquefaction or Edgar Allan Poe Couldn't Have Meant This

As I prepare myself to run in the 2013 Susan G. Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure on Sunday September, 8th, it seems appropriate to mention my latest breast cancer surgery side-effect.

You know that weird sensation when you're underwater and can literally hear your own blood coursing through every vein and artery in your body? Or when you hold a conch shell up to your ear and you're miraculously granted a direct pipeline to the ocean's inner monologue?

Recently I've noticed that the implant in my right breast has been sloshing around inside of my chest when I go running. Not only can I feel it, but the sound it produces within the core of my being is maddening.  It's like I'm living my own personal Tell-Tale Heart nightmare.

While I feel the noise and know where it's coming from logically, the elusive, out-of-body reverberation is like an ancestral memory of my phantom breast. Maybe it just wants to make sure I never forget it once existed. Quite frankly, its eerie and I have a hard time distinguishing which of the two senses (hearing or feeling) I'm really perceiving. I can only liken it to being able to taste the smell of something.  That makes no sense really but if you think about it for a minute I bet you'll understand what I mean.

My breast surgeon says its liquefation from the the fat graft I had back in January. He tells me I just have to be patient until the excess fluid is reabsorbed back into my body.

Funny how the only part that won't liquify is the irksome little blob that has nestled itself in the middle of my cleavage.

I have a tendency to run to the doctor to check-out every little fluctuation my body registers and for that, some may brand me a hypochondriac. In my opinion, most people are so out of touch with their own body and abuse it to such a degree, they are desensitized to any warning signs that something serious may lie beneath.

Anyway....thanks Edgar for this apropos justification:


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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Right Now

I'm not one of those people who lives in the past but I do tend to get ahead of myself and live in the future.

The simplicity of this quote is all I ever need to remember in order to stay calm and grounded and it feels particularly relevant right now.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mastectomy Scars? Get over it!

You know how the expression goes: 

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."  

In my case, it was Istanbul.

I had this romantic notion that I would spend the last day of my trip being lavishly pampered at a traditional Turkish Hamam, otherwise known as a bath house. I had made friends with the proprietor of the boutique hotel I was staying at and since she had sent me to some great sites already, I let her assist with making arrangements.  She had two places in mind.  The "better" one couldn't take me at the time I wanted to go so by default, I went to the Tarihi Galatasaray Hamami which has been around since 1481.  I figured after 500+ years they would know what they were doing.

And of course they do but as I approached the modest entryway I sensed immediately that the images on their website, a tame version of a Bacchanalian festival with bowls of fruit and people lounging about playing mandolins, were wholly inaccurate. Mind you, that wasn't exactly the experience I was looking to have either but I could deal with a few grapes if the reward was a soothing massage.


After paying for the full-service "Pasha Treatment" (around $80) which included bath+soap scrub+oil massage I was led to the ladies' side and greeted by four older, full-figured women who only spoke Turkish and were in the midst of what seemed to be a nasty sisterly spat. It was quite comical actually even though I couldn't understand a word they were saying. The facilities were bare bones and it almost felt like I was in these women's kitchen since they were doing dishes and watching tv. I was put into a windowed changing room (did I mention this place is not for shy people?) and handed a cotton pestamal, or wrap, and wooden shoes.

Allow me to backtrack for a minute. Remember the bathing suit  from J. Crew I mentioned in my earlier post that I was all excited to wear for the occasion? Well, when the hotel owner called, I had her explain that I wanted to wear a bikini top because I had scars. She said it would be no problem.  I had no idea how naive that was at the time...

There was only one other guest at the Hamam when I was there, a Greek woman who spoke perfect English and was equally confused. She had her underwear wedged up her butt, no top, and a pestamal clumsily knotted around her torso. Since none of the ladies spoke English and were too pre-occupied with their bickering, I put on my bikini bottoms, tightly wrapped the cloth around my top, and waited in a plastic chair for the games to begin. I figured I had nothing to worry about...I was getting a massage and would either be on my stomach or covered with the cloth if turned on my back, right?  Finally, I was led into the bath and through sign language was ordered to lie face-down on a hard, marble slab in the middle of the room. I clung to my pestamal for dear life as the woman attempted to yank it from my body. I won. She shrugged as if to say, "suit'll see" and walked out.


Like a salmon waiting to be gutted, I watched the final moments of the Greek woman's treatment. She had a painful looking expression on her face as she was pushed, poked, prodded, and practically water-boarded. This was not at all what I expected.

I considered getting up and leaving but it was too bather had entered.


Let's just say the women who bathe you don't look like those in the picture. They are all well over 65, Rubenesque, and with great, big boobs practically hanging on the floor. They also aren't wrapped in a beautifully patterned cloth. Instead, they wear only a pair of bunched-up underwear and proudly parade around with their undulating bellies and swinging boobs on full display.

Somehow it's easier to be naked in front of perfect strangers so I took a deep breath, pointed to my scars and made the universally understood motion to go easy. My woman nodded like it was no big deal, put on her sloughing mitt, and went to work scraping away layer upon layer of dead skin while being perfectly mindful of the no-touch zones. When I opened my eyes there were black clusters all over my body which were washed away by bucket loads of water thrown at me. My skin felt like silk.  Next came this abundantly frothy soap which is administered by wringing a long sponge over your body and you're given a quick scrub of your feet, arms, legs, and back. Interestingly, the amount of coverage from this thick soap is way more than any bathing suit would ever have provided. The picture above is totally accurate for that at least. The last step is to have your hair washed while sitting on a footstool with the woman perched behind you as she scrubs your scalp, neck, and back into another sudsy lather.

Bathing at a Hamam is basically a full-contact sport. Things move fast and there is water flowing, splashing, and rushing out of every crack in that room. After being "rinsed" I was again told to lie face-down on the marble platform and wait as my woman proceeded to bathe herself (to remove my dirty germs presumably) like a well-choreographed play. I had already watched the same scene play out with the Greek woman's bather so I knew this was truly a ritual with a precise sequence of steps.  When she was done, she simply walked out.

No one ever came to get me. I eventually wrapped myself in my towel and went out to the waiting room.  Nonchalantly, my woman handed me a bottle of water and led me upstairs for the oil massage.  Finally I thought...this is where the relaxing part happens. Uh uh...we went upstairs but stopped on the landing where a low, cushioned bench was pressed up against the railing. Where was the zen music and candle light? I was told to lie down right there in the middle of the hall where I was slathered in oil and kneaded for a quick 20 minutes. The woman slapped me on the back, smiled, and said "good?"And just like that, we were done.

Would I go again? I'd have to think about that. The funny thing about this experience is that I actually took a shower and washed my hair before I left my hotel room. I figured it was only polite after all.  Kind of like making sure to brush your teeth before visiting the dentist.  

All I know is that if you have any insecurities about revealing your scars, find yourself a 65 year-old, rotund, Turkish woman to be your witness because she definitely won't give a damn!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

C.G.G.C Is Now On Facebook!

Just a quick note to say I've started a page on Facebook for Cool Girls Get Cancer.  FB seems to be a much easier way to communicate quick bits of information to a broader audience.  The blog, as you've noticed, is plagued with fits and starts depending on whatever else is going on in my life but I will always come back to it when I want to write lengthier posts.

So please head over and LIKE C.G.G.C's page here.



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Last year at this time, I was in Florence, Italy for work. It was about 8 weeks after surgery and I remember worrying if I would have the energy to make it through 3 days of a yarn convention (very exciting stuff!) and enjoy the side trip to Barcelona I planned afterwards as a reward to myself.

I breezed through the show and I saw every inch of that amazing Spanish city.

Florence is hot, hot, hot this time of year and I had to wear 2-3 layers of shirts because the expanders were so swollen and rested very high up on my chest. I was self-conscious that every one in my industry would know so I covered-up extra. I'm still a little self-conscious but I can definitely wear less now thankfully.

I'll be in Florence again for the 4th of July and then jetting over to Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday for my latest adventure. There's been some civil unrest there but I'm excited to experience a culture that is so different from the ones I've seen before. The protests mentioned in 7/1's NY Times were about gay rights and previously the protests in Taksim Square seemed somewhat akin to the Occupy Wall Street Movement here in NYC. I'm not so worried but just in case, I printed out map quest directions from my hotel to the U.S. Embassy!

On my last day there, after I'm all toured and shopped out, I'm planning to visit one of the famous Turkish Baths that a friend recommended. And while I hate wearing a bathing suit now more than ever, I did manage to find a decent bikini at J. Crew without uncomfortable underwires that covers all my scars, dents, and divots. Naturally, they no longer carry the style I got a few months ago but this French Top is very similar with the same full coverage at the sides and no underwires.

Happy 4th of July!