I’m not even joking about the PTSD

Okay, maybe I am a little.  I don’t suffer from the kind of PTSD that has me diving under tables, self-medicating with drugs bought off of sleazy characters in back alleys or laying awake staring at the ceiling every night. Instead I have these little flashbacks of the past year that leave me feeling a little sick to my stomach or with a lump in my throat.  The next several months (ie. the entire holiday line up from now until July 4th) is one long anniversary of cancer.  I found the lump October 30. Happy Halloween.  I had surgery the week after Thanksgiving and started a 6+ month course of chemo two days after Christmas. New Years was spent sick and in pain from the first infusion. I started radiation the week before July 4 and that lasted the entire summer.  In every family photo celebrating holidays and birthdays I am either wearing a wig or a scarf.  Every celebration was wonderful, but I was exhausted or not feeling well through all of them.  Concerts, movies, even simple dinners out had to be planned so I could rest up a bit ahead of time and I always came this [] close to canceling, but never did.  I decided no matter how I was feeling to take the words “fake it til you make it” to heart.  99% of the time my attitude is positive, but then I have a precancerous polyp removed and a wonky pap smear and what would have previously elicited only a mild concern gives me pause.

Now I should just be putting this behind me and moving on (and I will!) but wouldn’t  you know the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis begins during the month of Pinktober, where everywhere I look there are constant reminders of breast cancer. I have an appointment at the Cancer Center tomorrow and I suspect it will be especially obnoxious. You literally cannot leave the house, pick up a newspaper or magazine, turn on the computer or television without being engulfed in a Pepto Bismol colored haze. It’s all good. Just in case, ya know, you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of breast cancer. Now you know.

I’m not suggesting you don’t wear pink. You might look really good in pink! I’m not suggesting you don’t purchase pink items. I use a royal blue spatula myself and I’m not going to judge you if you want a pink one. My favorite present after my diagnosis is still the pink afghan my aunt crocheted for me that I wrapped myself in during chemo. But that blanket was made, given and received out of love. It wasn’t part of a marketing ploy to tug on heartstrings and loosen purse strings.  Be mindful of which companies actually support breast cancer charities when you purchase their pink items and which are only using breast cancer to fatten their bottom line.  Or, instead of licking pink yogurt tops (Really Yoplait?  You can’t just donate based on sales?) make a donation to the carefully researched charity of your choice. I support the American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org  and recently have joined http://www.armyofwomen.org/ and signed up for a 20 year research study that anyone can take part in, men or women, any age, with or without a history of breast cancer https://www.healthofwomenstudy.org Check them out.

One more anniversary to mention. Today I am 

Look what I can do!



  1. eddiesandcurrents · October 4, 2012

    I feel you. I think the year after diagnosis and treatment is another year of healing, on a whole other level. And I’m with you in supporting Army of Women and American Cancer Society. ALL cancers are bad news!


    • mainelyhopeful · October 4, 2012

      I love reading your blog. You are just far enough ahead of me to give encouragement 🙂


  2. rachturner · October 4, 2012

    Excellent post! I agree – Pinktober has gotten a little extreme. Fortunately, I’m a little removed from the pink invasion since my cancer is NHL and not breast. I’m glad you are finished and starting your next phase of healing!


    • mainelyhopeful · October 4, 2012

      I often think how women (and men) who have other cancers feel about all the hype breast cancer gets.


  3. Laura Renegar · October 4, 2012

    Great post ! Boy do we think alike…I posted something similar just last night about the pink overload in October. If people only knew what it was REALLY like to be part of this fight. Thank you for supporting the American Cancer Society – I love you for that. Have your friends and family look at ACS for the CPS3 study they can join similar to the one you just joined. Only it is for people who have NOT had cancer. Interesting. I will be blogging about it soon but they are looking for 300,000 volunteers nationwide. My friends and family are doing it. Hope you will check it out in your area and get people to participate too ! Happy 50 ! And those anniversary dates do get easier as they pass. You expect something that day to happen, nothing does, so you expect something a little less next time. Honestly, it gets easier (unless you are trying to recover in lunacy – like I am with a crazy ex spouse trying to hold everyone in the family hostage). Love hugs and kisses to you !


  4. rachaelsladylumps · October 4, 2012

    Happy 50th Birthday!!!!!!


  5. Lynne (Patricia) Milton · October 4, 2012

    Wow – it’s your birthday!!!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Susan. 🎁

    Hope you have a blast!!!


  6. Scorchy · October 4, 2012

    Always wear pink. It takes ten years off you!
    Happy birthday!


    • mainelyhopeful · October 4, 2012

      oh I don’t know. Filthy whore red does the same 😉


      • Scorchy · October 4, 2012



      • hopeforheather · October 5, 2012

        HAH! This comment made me laugh…when i was in high school and my friend and I would get our nails done she ALWAYS got hers painted “Slut Red”. [Her words ~ not mine.] 🙂


      • Laynie Humphrey · October 11, 2012

        I love that!!!! When I take my friend’s meal to her tonight, I wrapping everything up in red instead of pink! Great suggestion!


        • mainelyhopeful · October 11, 2012

          Glad to help. 😉


  7. lianne cawood · October 5, 2012

    Happy birthday!!! Love the post … and so get you. Am heading for 5yrs and the anniversaries are still there but get less sore … I had my mastectomy on my anniversary, and my reconstruction on valentines day. Could be some dark humour in that! And filthy whore red does it for me too. The pink platitudes are nauseating. Not the good ones, but the rest. It is sad how such effort just serves to trivialise somewhat the pain and loss and fear and loneliness. As in, not another pink ribbon product/campaign etc etc. I personally am over the overcommercialisation of peoples pain and fear and hope. x


  8. tinajuvonen · October 5, 2012

    First off Happy 50th…you made it!! Well done. Couldn’t agree more with you about all the pink s**t out there, for god sake, wearing pink doen’t do much for anyone over 6 and it is a badge I don’t particularly want to flaunt. “Oh, look at me I support women who have breast cancer” or “Oh , look at me I survived” You just get on with it (supporter or suvivor) you don’t need to recognised…do you?
    When I go into the cancer institute there is a board of all different colored ribbons on the wall, I don’t even know what each color represents,I know I could have a blue for colon and a pink for breast, but I’m not gonna. I feel as if people wear them knid like war medels, it’s sort of like polititions wearing an American flag pin, so you know they are partiotic……the whole thing is nuts. If we must , I say lets make slutty red the universal color for all cancers, what do you think? Besides it will be great on the prostate guys,he he.


  9. The Presents of Presence · October 6, 2012

    Happy 50th to you Susan! You made it!! I’m so proud of you!
    So I guess today’s perfect timing to gift you with the LIebster Award ~ filled with love, support and pride in all you’ve accomplished this past year! Keep on inspiring us all!


  10. Kristin Barton Cuthriell · October 6, 2012

    I am familiar with the PTSD that you describe. Happy 50th! That is a pretty impressive kick. Keep educating through your research and experience. I admire your courage and attitude.


  11. Brice · October 6, 2012

    No comment…just a big hug, (((SUSAN)))..Brice


  12. Facing Cancer Together · October 6, 2012

    Happy birthday; Snuck that little bit of information onto the end, didn’t you! 🙂 It’s hard going through these anniversary dates. I can tell you from my experience that the first year following diagnosis and treatment was almost as emotional as the actual diagnosis, chemo etc. But I think it does become easier. This year I’m feel a little more distance from that ach that has been present during all these calendar moments . . . hopefully as time passes that ache lessens for you as well.

    I love that high-kick, by the way. And I like you distinguishing between the pink shawl made with love and pink products with marketing motivations.
    Again, happy birthday!


  13. valerianfields · October 8, 2012

    Thanks for sharing the Army of Women link. It’s a great premise and I’m happy to join the club.


  14. pinkunderbelly · October 12, 2012

    Supposedly there comes a day when cancer isn’t in the forefront of everything we do and every day on the calendar; a day when anniversaries of surgeries or treatments begun and ended don’t rule. I’m not there yet, myself, but I’m going to believe it’s true.


    • mainelyhopeful · October 13, 2012

      Me too. Just not yet 🙂


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