Friday, August 8, 2014

My Whys

So the question of Why has come up a lot this summer, primarily at the two conferences I went to. What we really want to know from people is why they do what they do not necessarily what they do. We as humans feed off of the enthusiasm and passion that others show for things. So here are some of the Why questions I have been asked this summer.

Why are you not having follow-up treatment?
Remember way back when I was diagnosed in November, and I mentioned that I have (had) Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Yeah, well that means that my cancer does not respond to hormones. Sounds good right, it means the hormones aren't feeding it...well it is actually not good because the hormones aren't feeding it. It means they don't know exactly what makes the cancer grow so quickly so there is no follow up treatment after radiation. Hormone positive cancer patient get hormone suppressors after active treatment to greatly decrease chances of recurrence. No such luck for me and about 12% of all other breast cancer patients with a TNBC diagnosis.

You have shared so much why no pictures of your mastectomy scar?
You know those headlines you see "Teacher posts pornographic pictures on her blog"? I don't want to be that teacher. "Say WHAATTT?!?!" You may exclaim. Yep I've had several BC (breast cancer) friends who have had pictures of their mastectomy scars removed from Facebook for being "pornographic." So I've decided that I am not going to go there. It is not worth my job just so you can see my scar. (Which happens to be really clean and healing really, really well!) If your curious just do a google image search mine is like the horizontal ones.

Why don't you wear a wig?/ Why do you wear a hat?
Wigs are hot, tight, and just plain uncomfortable. If you hadn't noticed, I'm kinda comfortable with who I am and easily go out in public with no hair. (Though now it is growing really well!) With that said, hair, it turns out is really functional and keeps your head warm. Since I now sit in an air conditioned office all day with only about 10 other people as opposed to 30+ Middle School students, my head gets cold. Hats, specifically the few fedoras I have right now, keep my head warm without overheating it.

Why do you wear that thing on your arm?
OK so no one has flat out asked it that way. It is usually asked as "Is your arm OK?", "What did you do to your arm?", or my favorite when people see my sleeve on "oh, let me get that for you." So, remember when I had surgery and they took out my tumor and a bunch of lymph nodes? According to the American Cancer Society "Lymph nodes are small structures that work as filters for harmful substances. They contain immune cells that can help fight infection by attacking and destroying germs that are carried in through the lymph fluid." This means in this hot, humid weather we have been having in Southern California, that my left arm swells a little because it is missing 18 of those filters (most of us have 20-30) So my general rule of thumb is if I have trouble putting my wedding ring on, I put my compression sleeve on. My arm doesn't hurt, I can use my arm like normal, and the compression sleeve helps the fluid not build up as much in my arm.

Why did you move to the District Office instead of staying in the classroom this year? 
Well primarily because I know have my Dream Job!!! This is the job I have been wanting for about 3 years. It just took that long for it to open up for me to apply for. After several days in the summer training teachers, helping out teams of teachers at the AVID Summer Institute in San Diego and one week in the office, I LOVE IT!!! It is way different in comparison to being a classroom teacher. I am currently working on clarifying our district's AVID Contract, hiring tutors for the six middle schools and scheduling times to visit all 12 of my AVID sites, I've been super busy. Plus I get to work with an amazing team of other teachers who have been identified as leaders in their subject area and together we support all 32 schools in the Ontario Montclair School District.

Why are you so passionate about the AVID program? 
So this one is easy for me. In my family it was never if you go to college but when you go to college. For many of my students it is barely and if. Many of my middle school students have great hopes and dreams of becoming lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, pilots, etc. but they have no idea what they need to do to accomplish such dreams. There is no family member who can tell them that there are certain classes that they need to take in high school to reach that goal, many of their parents never made it to high school. AVID helps students navigate the world of education that is often unseen. The note talking, the interaction with teachers and other students. AVID focuses on WICOR (Writing, Inquiry,  Collaboration, Organization, Reading), AVID teaches that college is a very real possibility for students that traditionally aren't seen as "college bound" they aren't straight A students, they aren't in need of remediation, they just kinda hang in the middle just needing a little extra push to reach their full potential.

Why didn't you stop selling bags while you were sick?
Ummm, have you seen how cute the Thirty-One bags are? The company really does meet its mission to Celebrate, Encourage and Reward women. Why would I ever give that up unless I had to?
Another question that usually goes with this is I thought you sold... So I am not only obsessed with Thirty-One but I also really like Origami Owl jewelry, Jamberry Nails, and Pampered Chef kitchen products so I usually have a home party as a hostess for my friends who are consultants for those companies because by hosting a party I can often get a bunch of the stuff I want for free in rewards :) I will gladly sell you a bag any time, but for the other things I will pass on the information of my friends who sell what you are looking for.

The last question I am constantly asked is 
Why share your story?
Again I am not a shy person. Sharing my story has helped me bring awareness to cancer and all that goes with it. It has also been a bit therapeutic for me to put my thoughts down. One day when Ellie and Cora are older I will want to tell them what I went through, but realistically I will not remember everything so typing it out will help with that. Lastly, I really want to demystify as much about cancer as I can. After almost every Dr. appointment I would come home and search about a million things and ask a ton of questions to the on-line group of moms also diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy. I know there are women out there who don't want to tell their families that they have cancer, if I can help just one of them, it will all be worth it.

I leave you with a few things
1- Another huge thank you to EVERYONE who has dropped me a note, left me a message, thought of me during treatment, etc. Not once during this journey have I felt alone or like I had no one I could call, or no shoulder I could cry on. I also never felt that I needed to put on a happy face for any of you. Knowing I could be real and be myself made it so much easier to stay positive and not get stuck in the "why me" mode
2- Here are my adorable girls :)
Cora trying to feed herself Sweet Potatoes

Ellie adores her sister and wants to hold her ALL the time!