White Apple Passion

White Apple Passion
for Health & Passion in Life

Saturday, July 30, 2011

To Laugh or to Cry...Or BOTH!

* My Journal * My friend Pam, also a breast cancer survivor, was so kind to treat me to lunch as I went through my twice a day radiation appointments.  It was fun.  We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Mission Antique Mall....a great place to enjoy delicious food and forget about troubles while rumaging around discovering some vintage treasures.....one of my favorite pastimes.  Thank you Pam!
As Pam and I focused on the subject of healthy living, we talked about nutrition, lifestyles, our experiences going through cancer treatments, our doctors, and so on.  One thing that really "stuck to my brain" was her comment that it was not only very healthy to laugh, but it was also very healthy to cry.  I think most of us know that laughing is obviously a good thing....and you sort of figure....it's not fun to cry, but crying does allow you to "let it all out".  After that thought, I began more of my usual routine of further thinking.  Hey....the fact that I can be really noble at laughing...and then, I am also a master crier "with dignity and distinction", I must exclaim... Wow!  I believe that just may work to my supreme advantage!  Since I am such a great authority of both these virtues, and now that I have kicked my "stupid cancer" out of power,  I MUST be of prestige health....(alien or not!).  And this I say is of "impressive prominence"!   I now "crown" and title myself as the "Princess of 'to Laugh AND to Cry' all in the greatness of health".  Then I shall "crown" Roger as the "Prince Charming of 'Putting up with Me'...(will she laugh or will she cry today?...  OR will she do BOTH ?!)"....(but isn't he of elevated luck...to have your majesty (me)!... Hee!).  Now then, that feels of great stateliness! I do believe I feel the rise of my good "healthiness", and obviously a part of Royalty!  What about you, "Prince Charming Roger"?  As I declare myself a Royal Princess, living in the "Palace of Good Health", I do believe that is of stature AND a splendid good thing!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Waiting Room...Michelle

* My Journal * Just a moment ago, I was going to and through a number of medical tests, doctor appointments, and consultations for my breast cancer... then surgery and radiation.  Today, feeling "on the mend", with all that behind me,  I was in my surgeon's waiting room... waiting for my follow up appointment with Dr. Balanoff.  The waiting room was full of women.  Most of them had a sister or some other female by their side.  Most of them were older women, like the one who was sitting next to me.  She didn't have any problem opening up to me.  She was just diagnosed with breast cancer last week, and was worried what was in store for her.  I told her she was in a good place and it was going to be OK... (as if I was a veteran at this still new experience to me.) The woman pointed to the hundreds and hundreds of files exposed from the receptionist window of all the breast cancer "cases" just this office alone has dealt with.  We both looked in awe of how could this be.. but it is... it is the true reality of life.
Also in the waiting room was Michelle.  Michelle was in her wheelchair waiting for her appointment like the rest of us.  Hard to really tell, but I think she was a younger woman.  I was immediately and completely heart sick for her.  Just looking into her sad and worn out eyes, I knew she has been fighting a long hard battle of pure Hell.  It was not right.  Her "caretaker", who I don't know in what capacity or relation she was to Michelle, openly talked to the woman next to her of the troubles Michelle has faced, and is facing.  The woman told Michelle she would put her on her prayer list.  Her caretaker said they would take any prayers they could get.  I jumped in and said I would be in prayer for her too.  If a person does not feel spiritual in his or her life, I can't imagine not feeling it in these moments, just out of pure necessity and desperation for someone in need.  I usually keep this "stuff" to myself, but not this time... not today... not for Michelle.  I don't care what kind of "spiritualness" one has or not... and how it's "spirited"and/or worshipped or not...  good vibes, positive thoughts, meditation, or any form of prayer....whatever it takes...I ask that for Michelle from this day.  As I was called for my appointment, I went over and placed my hand on her shoulder.  I wanted her to know a stranger to her cares.  At that time, everyone in the room seemed to be in support of each other for the fact that we were all in this waiting room, together for a reason.  I will never forget that moment... and I will never forget Michelle.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Spider and it's Web ... Wake up ... "Smell the coffee"

* My Journal * My favorite "spot" is our front porch.  I find myself going to that spot to sit....especially this summer.  I like sitting when the sun is going down.  It seems to be a place where I feel calm.  Once I am there, I relax.  The ability to relax seems to be a challenge for me, but I found "planting" myself on our porch helps.  Last week I did just that, after finishing my last radiation treatment.  As I sat and rocked, my eyes were drawn to a spider spinning her web.  I'm not a lover of spiders, but I seemed to be calmly drawn to the little critter.  I took time and just sat...and watched....I sat....and kept watching.  I observed how hard this spider labored.  She worked hard and fast.  I was impressed and found myself quietly "cheering" her on.  She was such a dilegent worker.  She would not stop for a break...there was much determination and fight in her to press on, and keep going.  Finally I felt my space was being a bit invaded by the web, so I decided to let the disciplined worker "be" and I went inside.
The next day I walked out to the porch and noticed the spider sitting in it's gigantic web.  The web spread wide, across much of the front porch, and near my "sitting spot".  Isn't it amazing?!  And how does such a "little thing" like that create such delicate, transparent, and beautiful work?  Incredible. (Now, I realize I am not making any new discoveries here....but it was one of those moments in my life I have taken time to "smell the coffee".)  Later, when I arrived again, the web was gone for whatever reason that destroyed the piece of work.  All that hard work...gone.  I felt bad for the little spider.  The evening approached, the sun was disappearing, and I was back out on the porch anxious to relax.  Wouldn't you know, there she was again, rebuilding her web in the same place.  The tenacious spider had begun the process all over, and it didn't seem to phase the energy and determination in the tiny creature of nature.  What a great little example and role model in our "oh" so big world.  I felt tremendous respect and admiration for this amazing critter with great character.  She did not give up.  She kept going, despite her world being broken down. She was strong, and determined to succeed, even with overwhelming obstacles in her life. I see this tiny little spider spinning her web...an inspiration in life, with a reminder to never quit, never give up, don't get discouraged, be strong and mighty... be determined, with "chin up"... no matter what has knocked your web down, or what obstacles you face in life.  I then realized, it's time I took more time to "wake up and smell the coffee". That's a good thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Unlucky but Lucky

* My Journal * For so many years I have been faithfully attending my annual mammogram check ups.  For so many years I have been lucky....lucky until this year.  This year I wasn't so lucky when they called me to come in for a magnified mammogram.  I was then unlucky when they told me I needed to have a biopsy performed on my left breast.  I continued to be unlucky when the biopsy results came back positive with cancer.  Interestingly enough, my unluckiness suddenly changed to luckiness.  As soon as I was told of my diagnosis, I was also told I was lucky.  Lucky this unlucky diagnosis was lucky being found at such an early stage.  Funny, I needed to feel lucky but felt unlucky all at the same time.  The deeper we got into tackling this unlucky but lucky new challenge, the more I realized the "lucky" seemed to be feeling much more than "unlucky".  Are you following me?  :)
To simplify, my experience as a cancer patient with my unlucky but lucky diagnosis, I define my challenge throughout as a "cake walk" compared to many, (even though it hasn't felt like it).  What I am getting at is, as I have lived this journey, my thoughts and prayers continue for those I know and see fighting greater challenges than the recent journey I have had to endure.  I am reminded by Chris....the young and beautiful blond mother of two, I know from church, who has handled her cancer recurrance with tremendous grace, courage, and also with stunning calmness.  Then there is Debby....a gutsy fighter, also mother of two with difficult cancer battles, doing well, keeping "chin up", plunging through and celebrating every victory along the way. (FYI--I knew she would look great with no hair!)  Our long time friend, Joyce...no, she is not battling cancer, recently experienced a "freak" bicycle accident.  This left her near death with critical head trauma. Also a mother, Joyce is a strong athletic and tough individual.  She has made miraculous strides in her amazing and difficult recovery.  She too is a true miracle.  These inspiring women are just a few of so many individuals "out there" fighting courageous battles.  For every mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend.....  or whoever you may be fighting hard battles... I pray and wish for good days, hopes met, dreams made, and wishes granted with a little bit of the "unlucky luck" along the way...
...and this...I also hope and pray to be an unlucky but lucky, and blessed good thing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Farewell to Cathee!

* My Journal * She's gone! She flew the "coop"!  My sister, and catheter named "Cathee" left town!  I'm free.  Yep, I finished radiation treatments this past Wednesday and Cathee left as soon as mission was accomplished! Hallehujah!  I'm done...and free of my MammoSite Balloon Catheter.   She (Cathee) and I made a mutual agreement to never see each other again.  This is not sad. (We can always text.)  I need no more of her.  And she is good without me! So she is happy...and I am happy. Just need a little recovery time for myself.  (Rumor has it, Cathee is meeting up with "The Radiator" in another Orbit!) "Goodbye, Adios, Aloha, Ciao, Au revoir, So long, Farewell!  It's a good thing!
(P.S. This is NOT the end of White Apple Passion....I will continue to illustrate, write, and "imaginate" as I recover after kicking this stupid cancer in the butt!)

Monday, July 11, 2011


My Journal * I don't know of a better way to explain experiencing radiation treatments than to say, with a bit of imagination,  it's like being an "Alien" from Outer Space!  First of all, I am receiving my radiation alone in a cold and strange room. (I believe I have used the word "alone" quite a bit.)  Well, I take that back.  I have "Cathee", (remember she is my catheter) .  Again my treatment is called MammoSite Radiation Therapy, different from the traditional radiation.  As I lie on my back, sitting next to me is who I call "The Radiator".  I will describe him as a "headless" robot.  He is a serious looking long box that sits to the floor on wheels.  As much as "Cathee" is annoying, "The Radiator" seems to be a little perturbing.  (They make a good pair.)  SO, as I lie on the table,  the "Human" Technician performs x-rays, measures, and then "connects"  me, the "Alien", to "The Radiator" for the "big event".  I am measured by wire that goes through tubing that will attach to him and me, with the help of "Cathee".  When I am ready, a "Human" Physicist comes in to reinsure everything checks out properly.  Next comes my "Human" Radiology Doctor for a final check.  When he, the last "Earthly Human" exits the room, the very large steel door that is close to a foot deep, slowly shuts, as it makes a loud noise as if I am ready to "blast" off .  I, the "Alien" from Outer Space, am in this eerie room joined by "Cathee" and "The Radiator" who are "Aliens" in their own right.  No "Earthly Being" would "dare" be in this "orbital" room! .  It is not permitted.  It's could be dangerous...YES...so I think, "What the heck am I doing in here?" Oh...I remind myself, again....I am the "Alien"!  UGH!  (And does "IT" really work?  Does it do me any good?  Or will it only harm me?).  As my head files through many emotions, I hear what is "the dummy" wire coming from the radiator, through "Cathee", and into my "Alien" breast.  It doesn't hurt, but I do feel it.  The dummy wire is to insure there are no "obstructions".  It is then released and the actual wire that draws the radiation from "The Radiator" to my breast is felt.  I hear a prominent clicking noise.  This is "The Radiator" loudly counting my radiation time.  The room itself is not quiet.  There is a whirring noise going on all the time, fit for "Aliens" such as me.   As I said, the treatment does not hurt, but gives me an odd emotional "alien" feeling.  Just to the outside of this room are the "Earthly Humans";  my Doctor, the Physicist, and the Technician.  The Technician has four monitors including a sound monitor overlooking the "Alien".  The Doctor and Physicist are viewing  "Cathee"/the balloon of the catheter in my breast on computer monitors.  I am being watched very closely just as you would watch any "Alien" if you saw one.  My own actual "alien" radiation time lasts for just over 6 minutes. I humor myself by thinking "Cathee" and "the Radiator" have "something going on" during this time, and I exist as only the "third party" "Alien".  I want no details and I refuse to use any imagination here!  Ha!  After the 6 minutes, the clicking stops, the wire goes back into "The Radiator", and the big heavy door slowly and "spookily" opens with more loud vibration. The "Earthly Humans" are not afraid of me anymore.  The "Human Technician" unhooks me from "The Radiator". Thank goodness.  The "Human" Nurse comes in to "redress" and pad my catheter area.  And I, the "Alien", am free to go until the next round. Yes, feeling like an "Alien" is not a good thing, but really it's not such a bad thing either.  I have learned through this experience that "Earthly Humans" treat "Aliens" like me, quite well.  And may I add, that is good thing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Inappropriately Appropriate!

When my wonderful friend, Starla heard about my diagnosis, she sent me a message and called my cancer, "Stupid Cancer"!  As I read the message, it seemed to give me an instant feeling of "empowerment" over
the unwanted enemy.  I then suddenly realized there is actually a place in life where "verbal abuse" can be  appropriately used, and the unacceptable word, "stupid", is COMPLETELY acceptable!  I truly found much satisfaction in this inappropriate but appropriate use of vocabulary.  I want to thank Starla for allowing me to feel the liberating right to personally shout out and verbally abuse the "uninvited guest".
On behalf of all cancer patients...THIS is what I have to say:  "To all the 'Stupid Cancers' in the world, YOU CAN JUST GO TO HELL!!"

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Catheter....My Sister....Her name is "Cathee"

My Journal * I am trying to figure out the best way to describe my "relationship" with my lovely MammoSite Balloon Catheter.  I will call her "Cathee". The best comparison I can think of is Cathee seems to be like a little sister visiting from out of town.  (She wasn't even invited!)  I never had a "real" sister but this is as "blood related" as it gets.  (After all we ARE sharing the same blood.)  As I have said maybe twice before, Cathee is very annoying.  She is not "attached to the hip" but attached to my breast.  She is here visiting for a couple of weeks and will not leave me alone.  She hurts me...even though she doesn't mean to.  I don't like her but I do love her.  Does this sound like sisters to you?  I love her because even though she is very annoying, she loves me back, and she is going to do me a lot of good.  She is also very smart and knows exactly what her mission is to help reinsure a good long life for me.  I must say when she arrived, she did not look so great....she maintains a poor diet....she eats up my bad cells and steals my good ones too!...(the selfish sister she is.) And what are sisters for!?  I have decided, especially since she is the "smart" left brain sister (who doesn't focus much on appearance), and I am the "visual" right brain sister, I will just have to give her a little "make-over" during her "stay".  And here she is....Introducing my beloved and dear, annoying and selfish, little sister and catheter.  Her name is "Cathee".

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Radiation....My Dad....Menorah Hospital

My first appointment for my cancer at Menorah Hospital was with my Surgeon, Dr. Balanoff on June 15th.  That was the first time I had stepped back into this hospital since Wednesday, November 7th, 2007....the day my father passed away in a room on the second floor.  I have spent many days and many hours at this hospital the last years of my father's life.  My father was a quiet man, but as he got older he and I shared many conversations and grew very close.  He had many struggles with his health including; heart, diabetes, cancer, and kidney failure, all while trying to care for my mother suffering from Alzheimer's.  He would not let go of trying to care for her 'til the day he died.  Those were some very rough years.  Dad could not handle Mom.  Life seemed to be a bit out of control.  I spent a lot of time with these wonderful people, my dear parents.  I went with Dad to his radiation treatments.  I would drive him to dialysis when he was too weak to drive.  And there were many many more appointments that we journeyed to try and keep Dad healthy. My heart ached for both of their sufferings.  Only a few years later, I am back at Menorah, not for Dad, but for my own cancer that has struck me.  I am making trips to the Radiology/Oncology Department which is directly below the room my dad lost his life in.  I lie here alone on my back quietly taking in this eerie treatment...radiation...and thinking about Dad.  I am facing to the north and staring towards the ceiling which seems to be in the exact direction of my father's room.   I sometimes wish my mind would not think as much as it thinks.  It gets me in trouble and then I cry.  All I can say is I not only miss my mom, ( still with us "in body"), but I dearly miss my father.  He is my hero.  But I do know he is resting in peace...a true blessing, which it too, is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Update *
** Tuesday, 7-05--Pathology report came with good news.  Then came ultrasound and changeout of catheter in the afternoon.
** Wednesday, 7-06--Radiology appointment will include CT scan to make sure the new catheter is positioned correctly..... Geez.
** Thursday, 7-07--MammoSite Radiation Therapy begins.  Ten treatments twice a day for Thursday, Friday of this week, then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of next week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pathology Report

My Journal * I did not know what my schedule would be today.  "The" phone call came in at 9:30AM.  Pathology report is in. Margins are clear!  All is good! Another hurdle down.  Rejoice.  With that said, I was then told to be at the Breast Center for Ultrasound at 1PM this afternoon and then to the Surgeon's office at 4PM for the "change out" of the MammoSite balloon catheter....ugh....(not excited about another procedure that results to no fun at all, but this does result to a speedy and seemingly safer treatment ahead, being the MammoSite Radiation Thereapy).
I arrived for my Ultrasound.  I did not realize I had one more "test" to pass in order to be able to move forward with this new radiation.  The Ultrasound was in order to "check" that the balloon of the catheter was not located too close to my skin.  If that was the case, my catheter would be removed and I would not be treated with the MammoSite Radiation, but would be going through the 6-week more traditional radiation treatment and schedule.  OK.  I would find out "upstairs" at my 4PM appointment.
My busy Surgeon was delayed from surgery as I waited for "my time".  When it was my turn, Dr. Balonoff was very pleased and happy of my pathology report and the placement of the catheter.  I am passing through with "flying colors". She then had me lie down on the table to prepare me for "the changeout".  I will explain.  At surgery time, a much "cheaper" catheter was placed in my breast.  This is for all practical and economic reasoning.  It used to be, they would go ahead and place the expensive catheter in at surgery time, and too often results of pathology reports, etc. would not allow the procedure of Mammosite Radiation Therapy.  Therefore, a catheter costing a few thousand dollars would be wasted as opposed to a catheter costing a couple of hundred dollars.
I will say especially after today, I can understand that there are women who refuse this new radiation because of "dealing" with this "catheter thing".  I believe I have already expressed it's annoyance.  I also think you sort of have to have the "stomach" for it.  The "change out" of the catheter today was not any kind of pleasant experience, just as others have not been pleasant either. I do know it will all be worth it.  And WOW, am I lucky or what?!  As a cancer patient, everything is going as well as you could possibly want.  It's all a good thing.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


My Journal *   Being a cancer patient requires "patience", as most would understand.  I am now in the "waiting" mode hoping to get the pathology report back by Tuesday, critical to my schedule as it stands now.  The "buzz" word for cancer surgery is "Margins".  We want CLEAR margins, meaning there is a good margin of healthy tissue all around the lump that was removed from my breast.  If the results conclude this, I am good to go for the new MammoSite Radiation Therapy to start this week.  If not, it is probably back to surgery but that is not in MY plans!
Here is a brief summary of what has happened:
June 8th--Biopsy performed--Calcifications were removed to be evaluated.  A metal clip was then placed in breast to mark the area removed.
June 29th--A procedure was performed the morning of surgery inserting a wire to the area as a guide for removal of the bad tissue.  This was done by using a mammogram.  I was awake during this procedure.  (It wasn't exactly an activity to be placed on a list of "fun things to do"....ha!)
By then, I was all set for surgery already with IV in place, etc.  I have to admit, I was looking forward to that moment of being "placed in a  happy state of sleep".....and finally I was there.
During surgery after removing the lump, the doctor inserted a MammoSite Balloon Catheter.  Again, if my pathology report comes back like we plan, then this catheter will be replaced by the "real" catheter to be used for the radiation treatments.
So here I am, with a catheter "attached to my breast", waiting.  I am still so glad to be a candidate for this MammoSite Radiation Therapy, but I am not exactly becoming "BFF" with this device that is a part of me for the time being.  It's a bit annoying.  The area is sore, and "wearing" a catheter is not what I would call comfortable. I do guess I just need to quit complaining, and know that this device is only a great "weapon"! Yes, it is! ...A great weapon that will be used to "kick" and destroy the enemy!  That's a good thing!