Monday, December 29, 2008

Looking back at 2008

One of the highlights of 2008 notes the below; thought it worthwhile enough to share!

Cancer researchers noticed another hopeful trend for women with breast cancer: Patients who survive five years after diagnosis have a good chance of remaining cancer-free. In the most detailed study of its kind, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that 89% of such patients remain disease-free 10 years after diagnosis, and 81% are cancer-free after 15 years.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Last Week of 2008

My cousin Mike and I on Christmas sporting the same 'do!
Another grey day here in NJ but the outside temperature is not bad - I think it is over 50 out there.

Christmas has come and gone in a blur of brightly wrapped gifts, children's laughter, good food and oh did I mention good food? We spent the day with both my family and Greg's - I guess I should say "our family"! We are both thankful for all that we received and for being able to have a day of celebration with everyone.

We were also fortunate enough to spend some time with my sister and Lynn as they made their way south back home after spending the holidays on the Cape. When she asked what I have planned for the winter, all I could think of to say was "surviving"!

I think that was my response since I had recently found out I'll be receiving an infusion of Zometa to help keep my bones healthy as the hormone treatment I take daily can lead to early bone loss. I can't help but focus on what has become truly important to me - being alive!

I have also realized I need to be a bit more vigilant in watching my diet and exercise. I did a 4 1/2 mile run yesterday and felt pretty good, however while showering afterwards I felt a lump under my left arm. I believe it was a build up of lymph fluid as it appears to have disappeared this morning but it was quite unnerving to discover. Too much salt and sugar over the past few days along with some running - bad combination! Another thing to add to my list of resolutions for 2009!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

That merry time of year!

I sit in our office gazing out the window at our snow covered yard and the riot of color our Christmas lights create against it. Today is December 21st. Christmas is only 4 days away - unbelievable how fast this year has gone, and I'll say it again: I for one, am very happy to see it go.

While not usually one to wax poetic about peace, love and happiness I can definitely say I feel truly blessed this Christmas season. I have a wonderful family, incredible friends, a place to work that I enjoy, a roof over my head, a clear mammogram and one very patient husband. I have hair again, something to eat every day and warm boots to wear with my big winter coat. I look around and I realize I have so much that is good in my life that my resolution for 2009 will be to be sure to enjoy it. I'll focus less on the things that make me crazy and more on the things that make me smile. I'll do my best to remind my friends - those who carried me through 2008 - just what great people they are. To tell my family that I love them, I could have never sat and typed this without their caring and support this past year. And I will do my best to be more aware; to realize when someone needs a helping hand but may not know who to ask for it.

During the past few weeks walking about with my new take on the buzz cut, I have been approached by women every where - from the grocery store to the nail salon to the hallways at work. Women telling me how much they admire my bravery for wearing such a daring 'do. Sometimes I just smile and say thanks; other times I admit it isn't a style by choice. More often than not these women have been there and share their story with me. They are stories of the shock of diagnosis and the suffering through treatment after treatment and the lovely side effects treatment brings. I have been told stories of hats and hairstyles, support groups and pink everything. Yet, every story has one resounding theme - these women are all filled with hope and a joy for life perhaps I would have never noticed before. They assure me life goes back to normal. They tell me not to forget where I have been but also to not forget to always look to the future. So I am - I might even embrace a Monday morning after all this is Christmas week!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I had my 1st post - surgery mammogram yesterday and it was clear! I almost kissed my doctor when she showed me the films!

My day was a crazy one, starting with lab work that I could not get because although I had a prescription, the lab needed a doctor's order. Thankfully we were at the NYU Cancer Center and my surgeon was able to send the order through. So I had four vials of blood drawn, a mammogram, a bone density scan and to top my day, an echo cardiogram. (The tech advised I have a beautiful heart!)

I made a comment aloud, heard by the woman administering my mammogram as I approached the digital machine - "Ah - friend and foe!" She stopped in her tracks and said she had been doing mammograms for years, probably thousands sets of breasts she had squeezed, smashed, & flattened and no one had ever, ever called the machine "friend". I explained - "I had a mammogram in March which found my cancer in an early stage. If it had not found it, I might not have been so lucky." She told me I had the right attitude and that is what she tells all the women who complain about the machine being made by a man (hence my mention of foe...); that while it is not pleasant we should be happy such a device is available to us to help us stay alive. I could not agree more. Dr. Moy who reviewed my films mentioned I should consider discussing annual MRIs or ultrasounds with my surgeon Dr. Shapiro as a young woman (again I could have kissed her!) I have dense tissue and they could be helpful given the location and type of cancer I had.

Boy, do I love saying "had"! So next week I trek back to the cancer center for my one month follow-up after radiation. My skin is slowly starting to look somewhat normal again. My eyelashes are getting longer but staying white - thankfully there is mascara! My hair is also slowly getting longer although I read that the pixie cut is in so I no longer look like someone who was sick, only someone trying to be "edgy" - or so I tell myself every day as I look in the mirror.

I am off to make Christmas cookies, can it be only 12 days away???

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am now 41 and happy about it!

So, I really never thought I could be happy about turning 41 - I mean at 40 you at least get the big party if you so choose and everyone makes a big deal about entering a "new phase of life", etc. My 40th year is one I am happy to leave behind.

I spent the day away from family, including my husband, instead opting for a few days of focus on "me"! I went to the New Age health Spa in Neversink, NY with my friends Jessica and Meridith. Meridith has been a guest at the spa before but it was the first visit for both Jess and I.

We departed Sunday afternoon and arrived in time for a late afternoon yoga class. The studio was beautiful - huge room, heated floors and giant windows overlooking the snow covered hills of the Catskills. Dinner was delicious; most of the greens and vegetables were grown right on property in the spa's greenhouse as we would learn during our "herb and vinegar" demo Monday afternoon. While I did try several new things - Nia Fusion Dance and body work on a Pilates Reformer, there was down time in front of a roaring fire with cup after cup of wonderful teas. It was a most wonderful way to spend a birthday.

I should mention the great weekend I had leading up to my Sunday departure. Friday night I watched my cousin Kristen star in a play she helped write at the Pequannock High School One-Acts competition. I cannot believe she is a senior! Saturday morning Greg and I were the guests of my mom to see Cirque du Soliel's Wintuk at the theater at Madison Square Garden. It was a wonderful show! We then walked up to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. Greg and I then spent Saturday evening at the home of our friends Danielle and Jack talking, eating and drinking; a wonderful night!

I know it seems like I am doing too much, I just want to embrace all that life has to offer these days!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More things to be thankful for...

Like a new niece! The above photo features the newest addition to the Burt family -Maia Grace who was born on November 19th to my brother Philip and his wife Jessica. Greg and I had the honor of meeting her this past weekend - she is beautiful!

We had a great weekend on the Cape visiting with Dad and Linda, seeing my brothers Nick and Chris as well along with Chris's girlfriend Irina. The drive home? Well, that was not so great. Sunday as those of you in the Northeast know, was a nasty weather day. Our normally 5 hour ride became an 8 hour one. Yes, we did detour through Madison, CT, a town we just love to meander through, but Route 95 was just pure hell. I swear they have been doing construction on that highway in the same place for over 30 years!

So, it is now December. I have another birthday coming up. I have decided I need to embrace them as I am lucky to be able to celebrate them! I am in denial however that Christmas is right around the corner!