Friday, December 19, 2008

Why everything is taking so long

Okay, it's time for an explanation why my blog entries are taking forever. I have a really good excuse - it's a humdinger, in fact. In August, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In September I had surgery which got it all, and it had not spread to the nodes - great news. But it was a really aggressive tumour so they recommended chemotherapy first and then radiation as preventive, adjuvant measures and I have just had my second round of six chemo sessions and it is tiring me out. I am thinking radiation in the Spring will be a walk in the park compared to chemo.

I decided to go ahead and teach this past semester, as I had already committed to it, but I am not going to be teaching in January. I am thinking I want all my energy to get well - not from the cancer which is gone but from the chemo - that is some toxic stuff. So I have planned some creative projects for myself that I can work on when I feel well, which really, is most of the time.

Before people respond with sympathetic comments, let me tell you what I have learned about energy. I have learned that there really IS negative and positive energy and people can project it like quills on a porcupine. I have discovered that, however well-meant, expressions of sympathy are negative energy. Negative energy requires effort to resist and I am not willing to expend that valuable part of my own energy resisting it. I intend to be relentlessly cheerful and positive about this entire experience and I have been therefore avoiding anybody who can bring me down, even if they really do mean well.

I have been writing about the experience from the get-go and that has been tremendously therapeutic. I am now trying to come up with suggestions for how people can respond when they hear about something major like this. Don't say "I'm sorry". I know that's almost always the first reaction but don't say it. I have been thinking people could say something like "Wow, how are you coping with that?" I had one person respond with "God love ya!" which I felt was not negative. So my challenge to you, my dear readers, is to come up with other initial expressions of caring that are not negative. I'm currently stumped.

In the meantime, I am carrying on with the corduroy jacket.
green cord jean jacket
Here are my nice flat felled seams, from the inside and the outside.
green cord jean jacket
Here's the back yoke from the inside, pinned and ready to be sewn down. I actually turn it over and sew it from the outside to make sure the topstitching goes in the right place. I sew very slowly because the pins are underneath then and I can't take them out as I go.
green cord jean jacket
This is the shoulder seam, after it has been sewn and then one side of the seam allowance has been trimmed. I trim off the seam allowance belonging to the body of the jacket because there is only one seam in the sleeve part that will need to be folded over to make the flat fell.
green cord jean jacket
Here I am pressing the outside of the shoulder seam over the ham. Because of how awkward it is, I don't press the flat fell over on the inside around the shoulder seam. I just fold it over once the outside is pressed flat and then pin it and sew, also very slowly.
green cord jean jacket
And here is the jacket, taking shape. I have sewed on the bottom band to the inside of the body. After I sew up the ends, I will sew the folded edge of the band on the outside of the jacket with topstitching.


Andrea R said...

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer tow years ago, and while I didn;t have chemo, I did have tow rounds of surgery. Fun times!

The nicest thing that was said was, "If anyone can kick cancer's ass, you can."


So kick cancer's ass and rest up.

Claire S. said...

hmm - lost my comment - here goes again.

Yup I had the expected first reaction - second reaction after reading your whole post is 'Good for You ! Positive thinking has a lot going for it :-)

That green really caught my eye, can't wait to see the finished jacket.

Chicago Sarah said...

I was just thinking this morning "Riviere de Loup not Loop". Thanks for the good news and also for the update on your jacket. ;) Positive thinking does so much...little ways and big...when I say I send you prayers that's the best positive I can put out to the universe. Let me know if there is anything (care package, cute buttons, zippers, etc) from Chicago that I can send! Snow won't mail well but I suspect you have enough up there.

Alison said...

I want to share my SIL's positive after-chemo effect. The hair on her legs never grew back. Now that's gotta be a good thing, right?? LOL

Marty said...

I think "kick cancer's ass" is the best way to put it. Go get it, girl!!

Bonnie said...

I love your Jacket, the color and everything. I think you are GREAT!!

Carmen said...

Hi Julia! Delighted that you've "fessed up"... it's just easier that way! And after the 2nd, you're HALF DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the jacket is, as toujours, lovely! Am looking forward to the new projects you are planning!

Vicki said...

Your jacket is looking great! Sending you positive vibes from this side of the world :))

Anonymous said...

You are awesome.

Charlene McGill said...

I missed you! I glad to see you're back doing what you obviously love, sewing. Thinking of you, keep your head up!

Rose said...

What a positive attitude you have!That attitude as well as your sewing is an inspiration to others. The green jacket is looking great!

Sew Passionista said...

God bless you Julia. And I love the jacket!

Alviana said...

nice jacket!

Anonymous said...

You made me laugh Julia, you are incredible. I completely agree with you on the negative energy issue. It kills.

My sister absorbed a lot of it from well-meaning people during her phase with breast cancer and it killed her. She was only 31.

I love the fact that you soooo downplay your chemo experience. Did I say you are awesome?

Oh, and feel free to delete this if it doesn't fulfill the requirements....LOL....


Stephanie Newman said...

Hi Julia, Love your jacket! You are right about the positive energy thing: Your glass is more than half full, I'd say! Every moment in life is an opportunity to experience something new. If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade- isn't that the saying? I can't wait to see what your creative mind comes up with next!
Wishing you nothing but the best (and don't accept less from anyone else!)

Shirley said...

I'm sorry that I can't mention that I'm sorry to hear about your ...

Isn't it the Canadian way to say 'I'm sorry.'? I've lived abroad for over 25 years and I'm still over using it! Or is it that people here don't use it enough? I don't know anyone who has gone through chemo, etc. so I can do is wish you the best.
Best wishes

JuliaR said...

Shirley, don't be sorry! I know, it's SO Canadian. We apologize to the furniture when we bump into it. I just want to be more positive than that.

Thanks Stephanie, my glass is mostly full as far as I can see!

Heather I am happy to make people laugh! I do it with my college students all the time and it cheers me too. I want to re-educate folks about the negative energy thing so that people like your sister don't have to work so hard at deflecting it. That will be a primary theme in my book.

Thank you too, Alviana, Sew P., Rose and BrendaM!

Charlene, I do like sewing and keeping busy sometimes is the best thing.

Vicki, I like the "sending you positive vibes" approach.

Carmen, I just hope it's not too much of a shock to D.T. - I wanted to tell him in person. And after Jan. 2, I WILL be counting down - only the 3 more treatments to go!

Thanx Bonnie! I agree Marty! And Alison, you made me laugh! I am using your SIL's anecdote now when I am telling people about how great my readers responded.

Sarah, prayers ARE positive vibes. I have several people praying for me and am content to know that they are doing so.

Claire, it's all about staying positive.

Andrea, thanks for a great positive suggestion! Surgery was no fun for me either but the recovery didn't take very long, for which I was grateful. I suppose I'll be grateful for the chemo when it's over but I AM looking forward to it being over. That will coincide with Spring and then I can get back on my bicycle and feel WELL! I won't have the wind in my hair until the Fall I suppose but I won't have helmet hair either!

AlaskaBerninaGirl said...

Okay then, I will say what I have always said, you are such an inspiration to me and now in more than just the sewing way. Good luck on all of your projects, I am glad that you will feel good enough to carry them out. Have as much fun as you can and I look forward to seeing what you make next...

JuliaR said...

Thanx ABG, better to be an inspiration rather than a horrible warning! :)

Anne LO said...

It is by no means comparable but I just had a large hip surgery that kept me home for three months. The date was fixed six months in advance and I had to loose 30 pounds before so a lot evolved around me and that surgery. When people asked me why, I always said "well, if I were a dog, I would have been shot" - people would be bewildered and say something like "oh, it's good that you are not a dog then" and laugh and then I could move on to telling that I had hip dysplacia and had to have my pelvis broken apart with a chisel and a hammer and re-assembled with large screws. People NEVER said anything about that being terrible ot that they were sorry to hear that because they still had that mental image of the dog being shot. I have a husband and two young kids and we could quickly move on to talking about how he would deal with it now that is was established that I was not to be pitied. Sooo releaving!

Keep sewing - it will keep you healthy!

Linda T said...

You go girl! I have a dear friend who had been dealing with some form of cancer for almost 40 years, and she is still going strong - laughing and sewing!

Sandy said...

My mother in law was diagnosed this past summer with Breast Cancer. Like you, caught early and surgery was successful. She fortunately didn't have to do chemo just radiation. She is a trooper and it sounds like you are too! Postive healthy thoughts are headed your direction!

JuliaR said...

Thanks Anne LO, what an ordeal for you! All that work, man! Do you feel like a new person after all that? That could be a real positive - striding forward as a new person with all of the benefits of the old person.

Thanks Linda! It is amazing how many people can live with cancer for so long.

And thanks too Sandy. Sometimes, I really feel like I can feel those positive vibes.

Anne LO said...

Julia, thank you! It will take some time before I am back in gear - I still have sore, thin muscles in the leg and it will take some months before I know if it has worked because the symptoms of the hip dysplacia is the same as the aftermath, so to speak. :-) (I always wanted thin thighs but not because all muscles deserted me!)

If it doesn't take away the present problems with sore hip, back and muscles, at least it has made the risk of atrosis later on smaller - and that in it self is a great thing.

A new person - well, it is nice to be smaller, that's for sure, and it is truly great that I haven't regained the weight after weeks in bed. Only now I have to start all over with fitting, haha!

I must add a "Girl, you ROCK" - I think I once read someone write "beat the cr*p out of that crab". :-) (cancer means crab in latin)

j.b. said...

I just wanted to say, keep your sense of humor -- it's saved me on more than one occasion this time around -- and you'll be able to gracefully get through anything. The best of luck to you, and keep up the sewing, that too has saved me!

Au revior,

sewjune said...

"Find the blessings!" That's my first thought. Even though you wouldn't ever have chosen this path, it is now a part of your journey and there will be many blessings mixed in with all the muck. Kick ass, girl, and keep blogging! You are much loved!

JuliaR said...

Thanx j.b., I agree that a sense of humour is a must. For you and for those around you too! Who wants a crabby sick person?

Sewjune, I like find the blessings! Sometimes you do have to look hard but they are there.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia, I had decided to relearn how to sew and had been following your projects for quite a while. I hadn't looked at your blog in months and just found it again. You were my hero before, but now you're really my hero!! You rock and are an inspiration! Sending you best wishes! Linda in Philly. (PS - I thought saying you are sorry was an Italian thing not a Canadian thing!)

JuliaR said...

Thanx Linda! We Canadians say "sorry" to the furniture when we bump it!

Ezim said...

Dear pro. Ringma
I learned Chinese KongFu remedy and practiced it for long time and it worked every time when I treated my relatives. I do not know if you herd of Chinese KongFu remedy.
I was thinking if I could help you a bit. It does not cost you anything and you do not need to take any medication. But I never tried on the symptoms like you have.
Could we try and see if it makes any difference in a certain time by seeing medical doctors checks. You can keep doctors treatment as they say and try the one I could exercise.

JuliaR said...

Dear Mansuer
Thank you for thinking about me! I Googled your remedy and it sounds like a combination of yoga and hypnosis. In fact, I did some hypnosis for the anticipatory nausea and it worked really well. And I do yoga for both the mind and the body. I only have one more treatment to go, so I won't be needing hypnosis much longer. In fact, my last treatment is this coming Friday and then I shall be on the mend! It will also help when Spring arrives and I can get out more and walk in the warm sunshine.
Thank you again, but I think I am doing okay for the short time of this treatment that I have left. All the best,

Anonymous said...

Julia, when I was dx w/ a rare uterine cancer I told my sons (ages 16, 21 and 24 at the time). My middle one had the best response.

"Mama, I am not worried because there are too many people that piss you off for you to give them satisfaction of checking out early."

I thought about it and he was right! Probably not the politest way to say it and I apologize if it is too offensive. It was far better than the hand wringers that said, "Maybe in a few years you can do another half-marathon." I showed them. I did the next one 5 months later!

Hang tough, girl. I'm sure there is someone that it will shock.


p.s. I was searching for sewing blog when I found this. I'll look more soon.

JuliaR said...

Thanks MJ! Not offensive at all! :)
Good for you with the marathon! Wow. I plan to do some long distance cycling this summer. Get really fit. That'll show cancer!

Ruby said...

Hi Julia,

just stumbled across your blog and saw that you are facing the same live changing experience I have..
I was diagnosed in december and have 4 chemo's down.. 2 more to go..
and than radiation.
I love your positive outlook on things. Thats the way I'm living through this also..
And I do believe that thinking positive is a big part of getting better..
Wish you lots of beautfull days...
bye .. Ruby