Breast Cancer Is All In My Head

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

As I did my 2 mile walk-run last Sunday at the park, I felt the breeze on my face and watched the river flow by next to the trail. It felt good to be there again. I tried to remember back to last summer when my world was intact and everything chimed along without the constant interruption of doctor’s visits, tests, and statistics. What a different time that was. I was training for my half marathon, and I had almost gotten to the point where I could do 10 miles with just a few minutes rest. It seems like a million miles away….before my body betrayed me.

looking at my phone

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m a positive person, and I love to laugh and make fun of myself, but this crap is starting to wear me down. It’s getting in my head. This odyssey began in March like an atomic bomb, and then it was off to the races. CT scans, bone scans, surgery, endless combinations of pharmaceuticals, blah, blah, blah…..

I know that a lot of my current mindset has to do with the medically induced menopause that may or may not be permanent. I’m now 3 months into chemo with one more month to go, and the drugs are slowly but surely killing my ovaries.  I have hot flashes at night that interrupt my sleep and dark thoughts that creep into my days, and I don’t like that.

Today I was looking at Naturopath programs online. This is an area that really fascinates me, and I think it would be very fulfilling to help people heal with natural methods and nutrition. I was excited for about 10 minutes when I caught myself thinking “I don’t know if I have time for that. It’s a 4 year program.”  Low estrogen does not create a happy place for me. I knew this before I was ever aware of “the cancer”. That’s why I was taking bioidentical hormones. They just made life better all around. It seems cruel that just when I found a good balance, it was pulled out from under me with no alternative.

Aside from the hormonal roller coaster, cancer just plain messes with your head. I don’t think I ever realized how powerful knowledge is. The knowledge that you have a potential death sentence hanging over your head. Last summer, I was blissfully ignorant. I had this time bomb ticking inside of me, but I went about my business, and I ran, and I feared nothing. I remember thinking that they must have the wrong chart when they told me I had breast cancer. I felt so alive and healthy. I wondered on the way home today if I would still be going full steam without the limits my mind has imposed.

They say that my 10 year survival rate is 82%, which is much higher than the statistics I saw on the internet when I was first diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I should be happy with the news, yet I still question all the time whether I’m doing the right thing in following the “standard of care”. It just never quite made sense to me that I could heal my body by destroying my immune system with poison and radiation. This is a daily struggle in my mind. Sure, I’m doing a lot of alternative things to minimize the damage, but can my body overcome it? It’s a gamble at best and a very difficult road to travel.

I guess the bottom line is that I’m tired. I’m just tired. And there’s a lot more of this journey left to endure. In less than a month, I’ll face a whole new set of decisions surrounding radiation therapy and Tamoxifen. Some women do fine with both. Some suffer miserable, long-term side effects. I’ll face this with the same rebellious determination that I’ve relied on to this point. The doctors are going to have to prove to me why I should inflict more trauma on my body and my psyche. 82%. Those are my odds with just surgery and chemotherapy; I think it will be hard to improve much on that.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back in the cancer saddle, making a morbidly twisted joke. But sometimes even a funny girl has to let her guard down.

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A Letter To My 5 Year-Old Daughter

Gracie 4

Dear Little One,

Tonight you broke my heart. You’re so little, so innocent, and yet you amaze me with your wisdom . I never know how much to tell you about my breast cancer. I don’t want to scare you, but I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m lying to you.

I’ve tried really hard to keep this from affecting you, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I’ve kept up with doing all the things Mommies do, even though I’m a little tired from treatment sometimes. I cook your dinner and give you your bath and read your bedtime story. We still play “Just Dance” together and hide-and-go-seek. We paint our nails and shop ’til we drop. And I really try to listen to you and laugh with you and just soak it all in.

Your reactions really surprise me sometimes, like the way you hate my wig. Every time I put it on, you get mad and yell, “Take off that hat!”. I finally asked you the other day why the wig made you so upset. Your answer was beautiful in its simplicity, “Because it’s not you.” Of course not. You could sense that I felt like a fraud with it on; I just needed you to say it out loud.

Your imagination captivates me. I’ll never know where you come up with the things you do, but I envy your unbridled enthusiasm for life. To you, it makes perfect sense to wear a princess dress with clown pants and a tiara while holding a light saber. “Can kill girls wear pink?” you ask . It took me a while to figure out that kill girls are the equivalent of “bad guys”, but we worked it out.

I know that you’ve been acting out a little this summer, understandably. But I thought that it was just your way of dealing with stress that you can’t really put into words. Doctor’s appointments, medicine that makes Mommy sick, hair falling out….it’s a lot to take for a little girl, even though Mommy smiles through it all and says it’s going to be ok. You’re so much smarter than I gave you credit for.

I never realized how smart you are until you turned to me at dinner tonight with a worried look and said, “Mommy, how many more days do you have to be alive?” My heart sank. This has been weighing heavy on your mind, my poor sweet baby girl. You’re worried about losing me. I suddenly wished that your were a little smaller, a little less wise.

You don’t know this, but you saved my life. When I lost your brother four days before you were born, it might have been a very different world for me had you not come along. Holding your chubby pink body and inhaling your sweet smell sustained me and gave me courage. I almost lost you, but you held on. It was as if someone were watching and knew that I was going to need you.

And now you need me. You need things to go back to normal. You need to think about starting Kindergarten and making friends and having wonderful adventures. I want you to know that I’m going to be right here for all of it, holding your hand and watching you grow. And I promise not to wear my wig…too often.

Love,

Mom

Taxol Round #3: How 2 + 1 = 7

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

 

Well, here we are, three days post chemo. I have officially taken Taxol outside, grabbed it by the throat and hogtied it. I’m whispering this, though, because Taxol is tricky. While I have my back turned, typing, it could sneak out of that seedy alley and beat the crap out of me. It is a formidable component.

boxerpicture by Keith Abigail

A lot has changed since my last treatment over two weeks ago. Do you remember my doctor saga? After that fiasco, I had an appointment with a new oncologist last week whom I had met once before and found extremely likable and caring. As I predicted, some karmic wind blew through my old oncology office and foreshadowed my leaving.

I kid you not. On my way to the appointment, I got a call from the nurse at the old group telling me that the doctor I had been trying to switch to for 2 weeks had an unexpected opening the next morning right before my chemo session. So, in some twisted version of the Dating Game, I had gone from no doctor to having to decide between two new ones in the space of 5 minutes.

the dating gamephoto courtesy of ICVDM

What’s a girl to do? I absolutely loved them both. They were down to earth, respectful, and humble. They both spent a lot of time answering my questions and looking at my research studies, and neither tried to tell me that my fears about Taxol were unfounded. Instead, they admitted that Taxol may not be useful in all women with breast cancer. The truth is, we just don’t have enough studies yet to change standard protocols. I can appreciate that. I have an open mind, I just want someone to thoroughly explain why I should put myself through something so grueling when it’s benefit has been called into question.

In the end, I decided to stay with the old group. The new doctor is younger and more open-minded, and I like that. He had no problem with me icing my hands and feet to prevent neuropathy; he actually pointed out that they are doing studies on this at MD Anderson Cancer Center. And I didn’t get a single eye roll when I told him about taking L-glutamine!

So how does 2 + 1 = 7? Both new doctors suggested that I change my chemotherapy regimen to a weekly Taxol schedule, and they seemed genuinely surprised that I wasn’t already doing this. My first oncologist gave me the option, but he made it sound so undesirable that I quickly went for the 4 rounds of dose-dense treatment. Well, we all know how that turned out. Since I had completed 2 of the 4 dose-dense cycles, that amounted to half of the Taxol treatments, which would be 6 of 12 on a weekly schedule. Last Thursday I completed the equivalent of #7, leaving 5 more to go. Confused? Just follow the simple diagram below.

calculusphoto by Kaustuv Chadhuri

Anyway, I think this new schedule is going to work much better. I was a little tired yesterday, but it was a vast improvement over the last session (i.e. no one was digging in my cerebral cortex with an ice pick).  I’m heading out with my girls to downtown Asheville to get a healthy dose of sunshine and freakiness. I think I’ll take some pictures so I can share.

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight (photo mine):

DSCN1817

 

VERY VEGGIE PIZZA

Ingredients:

Whole-wheat prepared crust (preferably organic)

Organic spaghetti sauce or basil pesto for base (about 1/4 cup sauce or 4 tbsp pesto)

Shredded mozzarella

Organic Spinach

Pre-slice portabella mushrooms

Marinated artichoke quarters, ripped into smaller pieces

Grilled squash, sweet onions and red peppers

Feta cheese

Assemble:

Spread sauce in a thin layer on crust and top with mozzarella cheese. Add desired vegetables. I happened to have leftover grilled veggies, but there’s no need to pre-cook. Top with feta . Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425 or until crust is golden brown.

I’m looking for a good scratch pizza dough recipe and will share soon.

Happy Sunday!

I’ve Been Using Someone Else’s Needles…

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

No, I’m not a drug addict, although you will find me with a needle in my veins weekly. Not by choice, of course. I am normally a girl who doesn’t even like to take an aspirin, but being a chemo patient will quickly strip you of any preconceived notions such as, I don’t know, health coming from healthy stuff and not from a drug that can only be handled by your medical staff with a hazmat suit.

My Nurse Preparing A Delicious Chemo Cocktail

My Nurse Preparing A Delicious Chemo Cocktail

HOW AN ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT LED TO A LOVE TRIANGLE

yin_yang_01_by_deiby_ybied-d55b1tn

In order to cope with all the fabulous side effects of being poisoned, I have turned to a number of alternative (translated to doctor’s terms = futile and annoying) treatments. Aside from supplements, I have been relying on acupuncture to diminish the side effects of chemo, shore up my immune system, balance my hormones, keep my mood in check, and for a host of other important functions. (see article link at end of post)

I love my acupuncturist. He’s caring, easy to talk to, and very intelligent. And he’s adorable in a young, carefree Asheville hipster way. We’ve been seeing each other since chemo began back in May. I just assumed that we’d be together for the duration.

Hipster Acupuncture Dude

Hipster Acupuncture Dude

Then, yesterday, it happened. I cheated on him.  I had no intention of it going that far. I was simply tagging along with a very good friend to her acupuncture appointment downtown. “I made you an appointment too. This girl is great. I just want you to try her.” What could it hurt? I wasn’t doing anything that morning, and a good acupuncture session is very relaxing. She even promised that we could get breakfast after. I’ll do just about anything for pancakes.

When we walked into the old Victorian house, I knew I was in trouble. The inside was softly lit and charming, its rich Oriental rugs and dark cherry woods beckoning. There were a few simple yet elegant Asian-inspired decorations, and I could detect a fresh, light fragrance in the room, perhaps citrus with bergamot. This was in stark contrast to the unloved, spare-bedroom feel of my usual place. I remarked to my friend after a few minutes in the waiting room that I felt like I was falling into a sleepy trance.

Then she appeared like a soft breeze flowing into the room through an open window. She introduced herself as Allison, but she could have easily pulled off “Eden” or “Willow”. From her lithe, petite graceful frame to her soft, melodious voice that washed over me like a caress, everything about her suggested that she might actually be the source of Zen. She led my friend back to begin her treatment while I filled out paperwork, and then she came back for me.

I tried to resist her charms, but they were too many. I noticed that she wore no makeup but still managed to look twenty years younger than I suspect she was. She had soft, curly brown hair and deep blue soulful eyes that radiated kindness. The few lines on her face suggested a life lived with zest and passion, but always on her own terms. And when she smiled, which was often, I was envious of how she lit up the room.  She reminded me of a smaller-mouthed Carly Simon. As she spoke, she impressed me with the depth of her knowledge, which is very hard to do. She was at once confident and humble, professional and embracing.

carly_simon_grande4

Then it happened. I let her stick her needles in me. How could I resist? She might as well have led me by the hand to an opium den. As I relaxed in a comfy, overstuffed recliner, she covered me from head to toe in a soft velour blanket and whispered that I could press the button on the side of my chair if I needed her. And she left. I sank into the chair in my hypnotic state, oblivious to my friend beside me.

Until I was startled by a swift poke on my arm. “Hey. I really have to pee. BAD! I’ve been in here for 30 minutes longer than you, and I had a triple shot latte on the way.” What a Zen kill! I told her that Willow, er, Allison would respond in a jiffy if she pushed the button on her chair. She pushed, and pushed. I tried pushing mine, thinking that maybe her chair was not connected. Still no one came.

After five excruciating minutes, my friend said, “I can’t take this anymore. I think she’s gone out for a smoke break or something! I’m gonna pee all over myself.” So she oh so carefully pulled her blanket back and sat up in her chair, her hands and feet full of needles. Like a kid escaping from Catholic mass, she skulked out of the room, holding her arms out straight and walking on her heels to keep the needles from dislodging. She reminded me of one of the villains in “Scooby Doo”, stalking those “meddling kids” down a dark hallway.

scooby due villain

Soon my friend reappeared with a big grin. “I didn’t get caught!” As if my dear sweet Allison had been lurking behind the stairwell waiting to rap the knuckles of wayward, needle-laden acupuncture clients with a ruler. “This isn’t the Hotel California, for God’s sake!” I replied. In a few minutes, a tranquil, sweet-smelling Zen apprentice appeared to remove our needles and lead us back to the waiting area where we were to receive our “herbs”.

My bottle was plain white with the name of 13 items hand written in Chinese. She speaks Chinese too?!? She told me that these herbs would release my stagnated qi (“chi”), which certainly sounded like a good thing. Apparently, in traditional Chinese medicine, the root of cancer is stagnated qi. I asked Allison why one’s qi would become stagnated, and, of course she had a thoughtful intelligent answer. She said that there were numerous reasons for this to occur, but a common theme revolved around “stuffing one’s emotions”, leading to buried resentment and anger. That was a light bulb moment for me. I’ve been doing that my entire life. And intuitively, I feel like I will never be truly healthy until I can stand up for myself in the moment.

I left the office feeling like I had gotten a bargain. Acupuncture, zen, and therapy for one price. And of course, Allison, who is the kind of person that sticks in your brain and affects you deeply. What will I do with this awkward acupuncture triangle? She wants to see me again, but I am in so deep with the hipster. We have plans, a future together. Can I possibly juggle them both? I feel my qi stagnating at the very thought of it!

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Supplements That Have Let Me Live Well During Chemotherapy, Part 2

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

As promised, I am going to outline the supplements that I have used specifically for chemotherapy and why I chose them. If you missed the first part of this post, you can catch up here. I am undergoing Adriamycin/Cytoxan/Taxol (ACT or ECT) chemotherapy for breast cancer, but I feel that these supplements would be helpful to anyone needing immune or antioxidant support during a period of chronic stress.

I can see your eyes getting big when I mention antioxidants. It is a very controversial topic when it comes to chemotherapy. Some doctors discourage the use of antioxidants for fear that they might lessen the effectiveness of drugs that work through oxidation. However, there are many scientific studies showing that antioxidants actually increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs while reducing the side effects. Click here to take a look at an article that is really well done and explains how each drug category is affected by a specific antioxidant.

Just a note of caution here. Most of the following supplements are plants, so if you have strong allergies, proceed slowly. If you are allergic to ragweed or daisies, be aware that Echinacea and Astragalus are in this family. Also, if you take a large amount of prescription medication, it would be wise to do some research and see if there is any interference with these substances. If you feel like you want to talk to someone about it, your best bet would be an herbalist or a Naturopath. Your MD will probably look at you like a deer in the headlights.

Astragalus by jrdnzASTRAGALUS (photo by jrdnz)

Astragalus is a fantastic product for deep immune support. It inhibits tumor growth, increases natural killer cells, protects the kidneys and liver, and reduces fatigue. The product I take is from Gaia Herbs and is called Astragalus Supreme. This is from an organic farm right here in Asheville, but it is available online. I take 2 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.

Echinacea Purpurea by Jonathan BillingerECHINACEA (photo by Jonathan Billinger)

Echinacea is another fantastic immune support product. It is helpful in preventing illness with decreased white blood cell counts and also instrumental in stimulating new cell production. This is the magical herb among Sioux Indian tribes both for healing and for health maintenance. I use a Mediherb product called Echinacea Premium. Once again, this company has a wonderful reputation for quality, and they grow all of their own herbs on a large organic farm. I alternate this product with Astragalus; when one runs out, I take the other, etc. I take 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.

Milk Thistle by H ZellMILK THISTLE (photo by H Zell)

This is the ultimate in liver protection. And when your liver is being bombarded by chemo drugs, pain killers, steroids, and God knows what else, you need some protection. Milk thistle also protects the kidneys, lowers LDL cholesterol, and decreases intestinal damage. I read some research showing that silymarin, an ingredient in milk thistle, may have an estrogenic effect. But other research showed that it inhibited metastasis. I probably will discontinue this one after treatment, just to be safe. But for now, my liver is in tip top shape. I use a product called Liver Health, also by Gaia Herbs, 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms by BuckeyeinTriadTURKEY TAIL MUSHROOM (photo by BuckeyeinTriad)

Also known as Trametes versicolor, the turkey tail is the “mack daddy” of mushrooms. As a matter of fact, it is used as standard of oncological care in Japan and China, where 9600 clinical randomized clinical trials have been done on disease-free and overall survival. Improved immune function seems to be a key in prevention of primary and secondary breast cancer, and medicinal mushrooms shine in this area. I use a product called Chemo/Rad Support by Dr. Kang Secret Formulas. You can Google this and order online. I like this fomula because it has other ingredients to help with the toxicity and side effects of chemo and radiation. It says to take 2-3 three times per day, but I can’t do this many pills. So I take 1 in the morning and one in the aftenoon. After treatment, I may move strictly to a mushroom extract.

So far, all of these supplements have been basic support formulas for any kind of stress/disease state. The following are more specific and I took these when I couldn’t stomach anything else in those days right after treatment.

ESSENTIAL FOR AC/EC:

COENZYME Q10- One of the most devastating side effects of AC/EC is cardiotoxicity. I am a runner, and this doesn’t work for me, so I got serious about protecting my heart. Adriamycin works by damaging DNA in cancer cells. Unfortunately, the mitochondria (or energy plants) in the cells of your heart are very susceptible to the inflammation that this creates. CoQ10 is an anti-oxidant that protects healthy tissues in your heart. Not only that, but COQ10 has been shown to stimulate the immune system, allowing it to “fight back” against cancer cells. I take 100mg twice per day.

ESSENTIAL FOR TAXOL:

L-GLUTAMINE- I know you’ve heard me talk about an L-glutamine cocktail to drink during infusion and for a few days after. In addition to that, I take L-glutamine capsules every day. They can help prevent destruction of the GI lining and peripheral neuropathy. As a bonus, they can enhance your mood, and who doesn’t need that right now? I take two 1,000mg capsules twice per day.

For infusion days: mix 15mg of L-glutamine powder in ginger ale or fruit water and start sipping about 15 mins prior to Taxol. I keep sipping throughout. That day and for the next 2-3 days, I have one of these cocktails twice per day.

pills

 

HOW CAN I TAKE ALL THESE?

 

I know this seems like a lot of pills, and I’m not gonna lie. It is. But you do get used to it, and you have to remember that it’s for a very good cause, you! I break it up so I’m taking pills 3x/day. It’s just a habit now. Write down everything that you choose to take, the dosage, and how many times per day you need to take it. Then build yourself a dosing schedule that works around breakfast, lunch and dinner. I find that it’s easier to remember to take pills if I’m sitting down to eat. The only exception is L-glutamine: try to take it on an empty stomach, at least in the morning.

I’ll be posting additions as I go along in treatment and beyond. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve found supplements that helped with chemo, radiation, or general health. Good luck!!

 

 

 

 

Supplements That Have Helped Me Live Well During Chemotherapy, Part 1

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

LIVING WELL WHEN YOU’RE BEING POISONED…AN OXYMORON?

Well, I’m down to 3. Three more rounds of chemo to go. All in all, it has not been as bad as I anticipated (I’m knocking really hard on some wood here). Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve managed to live life without major changes and with very little downtime. I have worked 3 days per week without calling in sick. I’ve been able to run/walk through it all, allowing myself more rest on chemo weeks. I’ve shuttled kids back and forth, cooked, shopped, gone out with friends, and kept my sense of humor. The only major casualty has been cleaning, but honestly, if you had looked at my house on any given day since…well,.forever, you would have thought that I was born with a disease that didn’t allow me to pick up a rag.

dirty-house-3

CHEMO IS TOUGH, BUT THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAN HELP

I know that all this may be a matter of sheer luck, and that chemo affects everyone differently. But I think that there are things we can do to stack the deck in our favor and get through it with more strength and fewer bad days. As you know if you’ve been reading some of my previous posts, I have been using a few tricks here and there to minimize the toxicity and side effects of chemotherapy. If you missed it, you can see a picture of me icing my hands and feet during my last Taxol infusion to prevent nail discoloration and neuropathy. And you can check out my recipe for an L- glutamine chemo cocktail here.

SUPPLEMENTS I TAKE AND WHY

Since I started chiropractic school 10 years ago,the field of nutrition and supplementation has been a passion of mine. The idea that we can alter body chemistry and possibly disease states through natural means is amazing to me. I have attended hundreds of hours of seminars on these topics, and I never tire of reading about them. Yesterday we went on a family trip to Gatlinburg, TN, about a two-hour drive. Just for fun, I read notes and research studies from a cancer symposium put on by the Institute of Functional Medicine. Can you say “science geek”?

nerd girl

What follows is a list of supplements that I have taken during chemotherapy with Adriamycin/Cytoxan and now Taxol. Some of these are just part of my everyday program, and I will continue to take them after I have finished treatment. Others are especially important for each type of drug. I’ll point this out as we go along.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMER

I am very happy to share what I have learned with you, but I completely respect your decision not to use any supplements if that’s what you have decided is in your best interest. This is a very individual decision. I’m not telling you that this regimen is a cure for cancer or that it will help everyone. I’m just telling you that I feel that it has made a difference for me, along with other lifestyle choices, which I’ll go over in a future post.

EVERYDAY SUPPLEMENTS:

Fish Oil- 2400 mg per day, but may double- very good for cardiovascular health and may help with depression- Bonus: eases constipation if you are prone to it

Cranberry Extract- 950mg/day- as estrogen levels drop in menopause and/or during chemo, women are more prone to UTI’s; I haven’t had a UTI since I started taking this 18 months ago- Bonus: high in anti-oxidants to reduce inflammation

Multivitamin- Go high quality here- you want the serving size to be at least 4 caps/day because you can’t absorb the nutrients all at once. I choose no iron because it is tough on the GI tract and I have read studies about cancer cells utilizing iron at a higher rate than regular cells. Also, choose one with “methyl” before the name for folate and B12. Some people can’t absorb regular forms. Bonus: you will make up for a crappy chemo diet and get some extra energy

Magnesium- 500mg before bedtime or less if you get loose stools- most people are deficient in this mineral and it is a required co-factor for countless chemical reactions. Bonus: eases constipation and helps you sleep better

Note: I take Cal/Mag/Zinc occasionally but only every 3rd night or so. I have read that Calcium is not as beneficial in supplement form as once thought, but I am still researching this one. I’ll get back to you.

Vitamin D- ***6,000mg/day (need to do a baseline level before dosing) This is the holy grail of supplements in my book. Get your level tested ASAP. If you are fighting cancer, your level should be at least 50 ng/mL and preferably around 70. I could write an entire post about the functions of vitamin D, and I think I will in the near future.

Probiotics- Did you know that a large percentage of your immune system lives in your gut? Probiotics keep that gut healthy by providing beneficial bacteria and preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. This is a crucial supplement for chemotherapy. Adriamycin is an antibiotic which will destroy the normal gut flora. Buy a high quality, refrigerated probiotic. I am using Jarrow “ultra Jarrowdophilus” with a 50 billion colony count. This has been a lifesaver for my GI health and regularity.

Stay tuned tomorrow for supplements that I have incorporated specifically for chemotherapy.

 

From Breast Cancer Blogger To Stats Whore: A Confession

80’s CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

FIRST THEY GET YOU HOOKED, THEN THEY HANG YOU OUT TO DRY

I started out this breast cancer blogging journey innocently enough. Like most of you, I wanted to share my journey, meet others in my situation, and just have a little fun along the way. Then I met the drug dealer on the playground I like to call “Stats”. You’ve heard of this guy. He gives you a free taste of blog success and then yanks it away faster than you can disable the cocaine lever in a lab rat’s cage. Soon your stats page looks something like this:

mom_graph_sketchy

 

Don’t give me that condescending, holier than thou eye roll. I hear you. “Oh, I never check my stats. I do this purely for the enlightenment and camaraderie. That’s pathetic.” Blah, Blah, Blah. You know you check every day, at least once, to see how many people have come to their senses and realized that you are the next Hemingway, or at least Tina Fey. And your little face lights up when you see that beautiful orange box at the top of the page, beckoning you to come see who liked you or cared enough to leave a comment.

I know it takes time and patience to build an audience, and I’m fine with that. Well, not really, but let’s say I am. Still, I can’t help but feel a pang of disappointment when my only visitor of the day is from a tribal village in Uganda. And she was actually looking for “Breast Piercings”, not “Breast Cancer”. It’s not that I begrudge others’ success. Some people have very witty, original or just plain inspiring things to say out there. They deserve their massive, loyal following and their 57 blog awards. But then there are the others that make you wonder, “WTF?!?”

Tell me if you’ve ever come across this scenario:

RANDOM FICTIONAL POST

3573999469_6e8b52e12c_mMy pet aardvark Lola is having gender reassignment surgery in the morning. You, her loving fans, know how she has struggled with her sexual identity all these months! She will henceforth be called “Lou”. It’s a difficult surgery, as they have to attach her new penis through her pouch. Everybody send hugs and prayers her way.

Posted: 5 minutes ago               Likes: 7,945

Comments: 198

 

RANDOM SAMPLE READER COMMENT:

“Oh, Lola, Godspeed! You have been my inspiration and my guiding light. I worship you. I adore you. I have nominated you for 36 awards, including 2014 ‘Blog of the Year’. I know it’s not 2014 yet, but who could possibly top you?”

And, as if that’s not bad enough, you come across a blog that does inspire you. You are moved to show your appreciation to the author in a sincere, well thought out comment. And you get the following reply:

“Neat”

And you think to yourself, “I hope Lola gets ball cancer.”