Monday, November 28, 2011

A breath and...breathe

photo by Sam
For me, the best parts of the holiday season are spending time with loved ones and taking a break from the usual routines.  I took a break from this blog (thank you for tolerating that) and from work, both of which were refreshing and much needed.

November got so crazy!  It started off with two scientific presentations, one here and one in The Netherlands, and ended with a holiday.  In between I had to review proofs of a manuscript that has my name on it and is being published tomorrow, go to Iowa City for a surgical follow-up, and be interviewed for a press release regarding the aforementioned manuscript.  I almost forgot to re-up for yoga, that's how discombobulated I was with all of these unusual tasks.

But I most certainly did sign up for another five weeks of yoga.  I must stay centered and stretched.

The surgical follow-up involved many mammograms of the right breast.  Suspicious shadows were noted, due to the scar tissue from the needle-localized biopsy last April.  Suspicious shadows were further visualized by ultrasound and palpated by radiologists and surgeons.  Importantly, Dr. Surgical Oncologist is not at all concerned and is certain that the suspicious shadows are scar tissue.  I, too, am certain.  Unfortunately this scar tissue will probably always be there, so I will probably always have extra -grams and -sounds and -scans.  An irony that a procedure to remove suspicious breast tissue left perpetually suspicious breast tissue in its wake.

After the appointment but before returning home, I had lunch at Masala.  All vegetarian Indian food buffet, all delicious.  I will say that it was odd to eat at a buffet by myself.  I enjoy (dare I say "savor"?) time alone, and I don't mind dining alone, but adding the buffet variable made things less enjoyable.  I found that I ate altogether too quickly and had trouble timing the second trip.  It's hard to slow the pace of consumption when there is no one to visit with between bites.

Regarding the work things, the manuscript should be coming out tomorrow, and someone at the journal thinks it's a cool article.  So she decided to write up a press release for it, and interviewed me over the phone.  I was quite nervous because I've never been interviewed for my science before.  I felt a lot of pressure to say things perfectly, which made me say them horribly imperfectly.  But I survived, and I'll do better next time.  I'll post the manuscript when it's available, and I'll save the summary of the science until then.  Needless to say, the hub-ub surrounding getting this article out has felt intense and distracting.

Thanksgiving, therefore, couldn't have been timed better for me.  I needed to take a deep breath, step away from my month of diverse yet pivotal events, and just breathe for a few days.  I spent excellent time with the usual family...

photo by Sam

photo by Sam
...and with family from afar.  I played games, I made deviled eggs, I went to playgrounds, and I stitched the last stitch of Eleanor's Christmas stocking.  This last item is significant because I worked on it during nearly every Herceptin treatment these past 8 months.  I suppose it's a bummer that I will always think of chemotherapy when I look at that dang stocking, but it was a great task to have during that time.

Which reminds me, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was my first free third Wednesday in one full year. That is, it was my first Wednesday free from Herceptin treatment when I should have been receiving Herceptin treatment.  That deserves a celebration and a blog post unto itself.

Hopefully I will carry the rejuvenation from the holiday weekend for several days, if not weeks, to come.

Was your holiday pleasant, if not fantastic?  Did you have a moment to breathe?


  1. hurray! no more herceptin. hip hip hurray.
    you're my hero, heather.
    xo. donna (ny)

  2. Lovely pictures!
    Congrats on the article, that is *awesome*!!!!!
    Ah scar tissue, always a PITA ;-) Glad it is only scare tissue.

    Here is to a more calm December (ha ha hhhhaaa, right!)