Michele's Cancer Blog

That's What It's All About

As you know from a previous post, the long term side effects of pelvic radiation continue to arise in my life. Here I am eight years later and five years longer than expected still roaming on around on planet earth. And far be it from me to complain about it as it continues to amaze me on the daily. I mean what’s a little avascular necrosis of the femur head in the scheme of things. My femur heads are just dead, that’s all. I have approached it like all my side effects. I remind myself it’s not cancer. It’s not cancer. It’s not cancer. See? It looks so nice written down and repeated.

A dead femur head can start to hurt and eventually limit your ability to move properly, which mine did. The right side needed to be replaced, so on June 15th, a mere 10 days into grand-motherhood, I underwent total hip replacement. I was very optimistic about my surgery and recovery. After all, I had endured a lateral thoracotomy, so honestly, how bad could it be? I tried to watch the procedure on YouTube and got as far them dislocating the hip and when they started the saw to cut off the rotten bone I couldn’t watch anymore and decided ignorance is bliss. They do total hips every day in my city. There are all kinds of people walking around with them. Even the elderly seem to do quite well post operatively so why would I be different? For those that have been reading my musings for the last eight and a half years you might think I am less than self aware, as my path to today has never been easy. But I beg of you to let me go on believing that one of these times things will be easy for me and I will respond like the norm. I thought I would be up on my feet easily walking in two to three short weeks and able to enjoy my new granddaughter the remainder of my time off. Perhaps a bit too optimistic but regardless it was my attitude as I was wheeled to the operating room and I willingly submitted to the anesthesia even with the knowledge that people that knew me would see me naked and know that yes, I have cellulite on my butt and thighs. I didn’t care. I wanted the pain to stop and this was the way. And I guess if the people you know and work with, people that love you, want to judge your body while you sleep then let them. I frankly didn’t care.

A few hours later my brand new hip was in place and I was awake barfing into a square, mauve bucket in the recovery room. The pain was not the worst I had ever felt, but it was pretty bad. It was a steady nine on the pain scale. I asked for drugs and I got them at a regular flow. My care was excellent even though I discovered they had used some tape on my dressing despite the fact that I am allergic to all adhesives. I scolded them about that and held fast to a feisty “can do” attitude as they got me out of bed for the first time tearing open the blisters formed under the tape. After that my weeping open areas stuck to every sheet, gown and pad placed under me. I had a wound drain and Foley catheter that they hung on my walker as they clung to a gait belt buckled about my waist and urged me to take my first tentative steps. It was painful and difficult, much more than I had anticipated. My surgeon had explained to my husband after the surgery that my tissues and nerves were definitely damaged by the radiation I had received in 2010 and my recovery could be challenging. But by Monday I was tired of being there so in spite of the pain and the blessing of around the clock care when my orthopedic doc poked his head in the door I asked “How does a girl get out of this place?”. He just laughed and informed me I had to be able to go up and down steps. I told him to bring it on. PT came for me shortly and took me on the longest walk I had been on down the hall and up the next to find the steps. After brief instructions I hauled my “package” up and down those steps. As I was taking the long walk back to my room I passed my doctor as he exited another patient room. “Done.” I said. “Dismissed.” was his reply. Later that morning I went home.

My recovery did not go as I had planned. It was hard. At two weeks post op when I went to get my staples out, I was still relying heavily on my walker for balance and support. They told me to keep walking. At my six week visit I was using a cane, but limping horribly. I cried in the doctor’s office. “Why am I not better? How can I return to work next week?” My doc’s PA chuckled and gently told me I was right where I needed to be and then when the doctor came in he gave me more time off and permission to drive. Eventually, at nine weeks post op, I started gait training with physical therapy and although I am still using a cane, I have returned to work as well.

In retrospect my hip replacement has been a lot like that old wedding, “original line dance”, the Hokey Pokey. I am about to plant an ear worm...so get ready!   “I had my right hip in. They took my right hip out. They put my right hip in” - and I still have to figure out how to - “shake it all about” - so I can - “do the Hokey Pokey and turn myself around.” Because truly, “That’s what it’s all about!”

Becky threw a punch at your cancer.
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Wow 😮My PT wants me to go back to see another orthopedic doctor about my hips. I am fearful of pain, but I manage activity with pain which limits me. 9 weeks is quite a while for healing. I fear a hip replacement is in the future, but am concerned about healing. I am glad to hear you are up and moving. No cancer is a great thing, but radiation is the gift that keeps on giving.
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Guurrlll! You know it!
I've got the same and don't have youth on my side...we'll see, worth considering!
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I am feeling this kind of stuff in my hips. I have been so naive...I have thought you finish treatment cancer doesn’t come back and things are great. I’ve have been scanned for bladder cancer and my hip joints have issues. Thank you for sharing, I need to share how I am feeling with my DR. I always thought it was a part of my life maybe I can do something about it😀. BTW I love your writing much love to everyone 💜
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Thanks Ginger! I just say what’s in my heart and on my mind. Not always the best trait lol
Definitely need a laugh button and a cry button! HANG IN THERE!!!! You are amazing!
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Wishing you complete healing, Michele!
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Michele you are my hero.. I think about you all the time and when I do I get strength.. I never have a CT that I don't think of those hands of yours while I lay getting a CT and I get my strength to "just do" whats next....God bless you ... I pray in Jesus name to completely heal you.. no more pain .. and peace happiness and love abundantly..hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
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WTH- you were awake when the buzz saw was running? I wouldn't have been conscious 5 seconds! May you keep healing up, and enjoy being a grandparent!
Papa John
PS: do you have a nickname Gram?
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On YouTube John, on YouTube. I was self educating prior to the procedure lol. They call me Grammy around these parts!
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Congrats Grammy! Papa needs his reading glasses about the YouTube part! 😁
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Sounds pretty awful, Michele! I hope it continues to heal and eventually you feel it was worth it. I’m not looking forward to having this in my future, but I fear it probably is. Thanks for your great writing, once again!
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You always write so eloquently & even though you have had a hard time, you continue to amuse. It is good to hear from you and I am sure the Hokey Kokey will be there soon. Let us know. Hugs Annabelle
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'chelle!!! I'm walking around here, tidying up the house with an ear worm now ("🎶you put your left foot in, you put your left foot out🎶), lol. Very brave of you. In the medical field you see a lot, but it's another thing to watch your own surgery. I did see my friends necrotic hip and that bone was almost black. When I went for my first meeting with the oncologist in 2012, he told me how far tx had come and that "we're even curing Stage 4". I never forgot that statement; it's embedded. I think of you and others I know or know of and I say Amen.🙏🏻👍🏻😘
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Thank you for your kind words! P.S. I watched someone else’s surgery on YouTube. Tried to educate myself and ended up grossed out! Lol.
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Michele, I am glad you are being totally honest about what you've been through. I may be in that same position some day myself, and I think it's best to be totally prepared. I'm glad you are finally getting PT and are back to work. I think recovery is all about taking baby steps! I'm not a physical therapist, but worked in a couple of PT clinics for many years and I have seen people recover from hip replacements just fine. I hope you are one of those people! Healing hugs to you, my friend!
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Me to Martha! I know I won’t be able to continue on working if things don’t change for me. I have to gat stronger! As always, thanks for the kind words!
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Prayers for your continued healing!! Thanks for the laugh at the end!! Glad your spirit is not broken!! Keep on doing the Hokey Pokey!!! Hugs and prayers!!!
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Hi Michele, sounds as though you have done brilliantly in the circumstances. I htink in 'ordinary' circumstances 6 weeks recovery is pretty usual. (My son, aged 41 had his hip replaced last week. I'm sure he will be impatient to get back on his feet fully.) You are amazing. xx
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The Desires of my Heart

When I was diagnosed with stage IV anal cancer at the tender age of 47, approaching 9 years ago now, my children were 17, 19 and 20. My boys were a freshman and junior in college and my daughter in her junior year of high school. Along with that diagnosis of “advanced poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma” came a very poor prognosis. They figured I could survive 3 years if I took the treatment and they were considering the treatment “comfort care” to alleviate pain and slow the advancement which was sure to come. I went through a dark period, albeit brief, of grief. Lamenting over all the life I was going to miss out on. These were the desires of my heart. Graduations, weddings, birthdays, anniversary milestones and particularly painful was the thought that I would never know my grandchildren and they would never know me. Let’s face it, I was just getting to what I considered at the time the “good stuff” that comes from having raised a gaggle of kids in a happy marriage in the Midwest. Unfair! I have posted in the past about my release of the anger I had at the world and my acceptance of my “expiration date”. 

I have great faith in God and was able to release every ounce of bitterness and pain over my anticipated losses when I recognized that I needed to live in the moment, not in the future that would most likely never be. Three years passed by in a blink and although I was facing recurrence I remained in the moments of my life that were directly in front of me. In those three years I had seen birthdays, graduations, my 25th wedding anniversary and as I stayed in the moment the bitterness of all that was “not to be mine” faded and disappeared. No longer a list of unattainable pleasures of life but something that was simply just none of my business. 

And time has continued to march on and I have marked 30 years of marriage since and attended my eldest son’s graduation with his doctorate degree in music. I have watched my middle son attain his dream of working as an editor for a large publication and sat teary eyed at my daughter’s wedding last year. I have watched all three find love and happiness. And just 3 months ago I was there as my daughter brought new life into her family. I heard the cry of my first grandchild child, a girl, Willa Magnolia, on a warm June morning. As I sat in the little room next to the birthing suite where you can hear, but not see what is happening and my granddaughter’s cries filled the room, I dropped my head to my knees in a prayer of thanksgiving for her safe delivery. Holding her later that morning was a joy I cannot describe!

When I was informing our pastor of the baby’s safe arrival he asked me “How does it feel Grandma?” I answer him “Surreal and amazing!” I then recalled with him how 8 years ago I thought this moment was not for me. I told him how relieved I was that I had released all the desires of my heart to God after my diagnosis. If I had hung on to them they would surely have weighed me down and made me bitter. I would have missed out on all the joyful moments I had been given if I considered myself simply “lucky to be here”. I truly realize my potential future joys were not my concern and really they never were my concern. I released all the desires of my heart into God’s hands. I trusted Him fully with them and he gave me back what He knew I needed! 

Meet Willa Magnolia:


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Michele likes this comment
What a beautiful granddaughter. I'm so pleased that you have this joy in your life. Seeing one's children become a parent is very special (and often challenging).
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Beautiful baby and beautiful post, once again! You are an insprirarion, Michele -thank you!
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Once again, I’m teary eyed reading your words. I’m so happy to see your beautiful granddaughter. Many blessings 💕
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Truly a beautiful post. Sending you much love and continued happiness! Your granddaughter is beautiful!
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Willa is absolutely precious! Thank you for sharing more of your journey, it fills my heart and brings a new perspective that I very much needed.
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She’s beautiful, and so are you!!!
Michele likes this comment
She is beautiful and you are so lucky in many ways. You have a wonderful family, heartwarming events that we all look forward to are happening for you. I guess god wasn't done with you. Keep on your positive track.
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Such a blessing 💕
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Such eyes to see you with, Grandma! Stay strong for her...so she will have the joy of remembering her Gran. HUGS to you!
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Hello there, Willa Magnolia! She is precious! She will bring so much happiness into your life and I am thrilled for you!
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So glad you got to experience all those milestones, and wishing you many, many more! You have a beautiful grandbaby.
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Love reading your posts. This post made my heart happy. Your granddaughter is beautiful.
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Thank you!
Thank you Michele again for sharing this with us. Your Granddaughter is absolutely adorable, those big brown eyes would melt your heart every time you look at her!
That you have met all those milestones that you so hoped for is a testament to your faith and resilience. It really is uplifting to read this, thank you!
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what a joy
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I can't believe how quickly Willa became perky and got the inquisitive look! She's such a pretty girl. And you, 'Chelle, exactly why one should never give up hope. Determination is such a huge part of recovery. I'm happy for you and your family.
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What a beautiful and positive post. Congratulations on your continued lengthy and fulfilling life!
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How wonderful! My wife missed by one week the birth of our last grandchild. But we had four others that are the apple of my eye. So I’m glad you got to have this experience. It’s Gods way of saying our lives will go on. Congratulations. I will be greedy for you and hope you manage to see some more!
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Thank you so much for your kind words. Life does go on. As my oldest one reminded me once, “100 years from now almost everyone alive right now, including those born this very day, will have passed on. Let’s not worry about then, let’s stay in the here and now!”
I remember thinking the same thing. I WANT TO MEET MY GRANDCHILDREN AND WATCH THEM GROW UP.
I am so happy for you. She is adorable.
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She is beautiful. Congratulations, Grandma! Loved your post.
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Beautiful, Michelle. Both what you wrote and Willa Magnolia. Beautiful.
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Love your post so inspiring! I am five years out. I have been able to travel to places I never would have dreamed. I have twin 7 year old granddaughters that I've been able to enjoy immensely. Your writing was very uplifting. Thank you for posting.
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U are such an inspiration to me as I am undergoing treatment. It keeps me going!
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Beautiful, the writing and Willa💜💜💜
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She is so beautiful. So good to hear from you & to know that all is well. Hugs Annabelle
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Beautiful words beautiful grandchild!!!!!!
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Vital Info


October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3


As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp


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