Michele's Cancer Blog

Don't Wake Me

Life has been such a whirl wind lately. I feel like taking care of myself, in all my “long term side effect” glory, has become a full-time job in itself. I have been in some type of physical therapy since August of 2017. That alone sounds like enough for anybody, but as you know I have been dealing with sciatica, hip problems, digestive issues and girl trouble that I don’t even want to delve into right now, plus this pesky area that we are monitoring in my lung. (On a happy note, the spot in my lung has disappeared and I don’t need to be scanned again until early April. That’s pretty good news.) Yes, taking care of “me” has been rough. I Especially miss my bestie Laurie more keenly than ever as the first anniversary of her unforeseen death just passed. If we look back in time the last nine years have been fraught with tragedy, pain and frustration, loss and agony. But this, my dear readers, is a post of contentment. I know it doesn’t feel like that with this opening paragraph, but bear with me.

Woven through the tragedy of my cancer and difficult existence of these last nine years are some of the biggest joys of my life. My husband loves me with a force that I draw strength from. My children have grown into adulthood right before my very eyes. I stood in awe as I watched them pass milestones on their way. Birthdays, graduations, first jobs, changing careers, falling in love, finding “the one”, weddings and children of their own. I have discovered who my real friends are. True friends are a real blessing. The importance of my family has been revealed in unlikely ways. Life is too short and I have really put an effort into showing appreciation for the good and distancing myself from the things I know are toxic to my spirit. Life as a whole has been overall good with some tragedy and pain woven in. For a long time I thought my life was just a bad dream. I was sure that I would rouse from a slumber and say “Whew. What a nightmare! Thank God it’s not my real life!”  But if that’s what this is, then please, don’t wake me.

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So happy to read this, Michele, you deserve all the joys in life right now! I know how you feel, after suffering what we have, everything else is just icing on the cake now. I have to sometimes remind myself of that when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. My first grandchild is due to arrive in April, and that will be a new life and a new beginning for our family too - cannot wait!
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Julie, I am so happy for you! Being a grandma is the simply the best!
HAPPY NEW YEAR. Good to hear from you & that overall things are going well. Hugs Annabelle
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I am so happy for you! What a lovely life!
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Love this
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No surprise you have a published blog. Your writing is a pleasure to read. Thank you.
Thank you! 3rd Edition is almost ready to go to print, but I keep adding “one more” entry every time we edit.
Love this! Thank you so much for your writing! In terms of girl troubles.... have you heard of the Mona Lisa touch (a laser treatment), osphena (an oral med) or reveree( a suppository)? I am having the conversations...

I have always found strength in your posts. Thank you!
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Michelle you are right on target. You words are uplifting and is very similar to the way we are feeling in what will probably be the last months of my husbands life. We have choices, and although we are sometimes sad together most of the time we are grateful and joyous. You are a great inspiration, and I may burrow your words from time to time if you don't mind. You are blessed.
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Borrow all the words you want to...peace to you.
Wow Michelle, 9 years post treatment still living life is an inspiration to me. As I have completed treatment 3 months out, your story is encouraging to me. Although there are problems, you seem to have embraced the positive moments in life. Thank u for posting as we newbies have just started our journey and it's good to know that 9 year survival is possible. Stay strong.
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I am so glad you are blessed with such a wonderful family that loves you as much as you love them. Without going into depressing detail, I only wish I had that. You have been through so much and deserve every blessing bestowed upon you. I wish you all the joy in the world, my friend!
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Oh my friend. The relationship you have with your mama inspires me! We have all been through so much. You are so very dear to me!
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Awwwwwwwww, thank you, my sweet friend! Love ya!
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Thank you for sharing and Happy New Year to all!
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Thank you for this loving post and here's a hug for the year ahead. You are a wonder!
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Enjoy this beautiful life because you not only deserve it, you earned it. 😘
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Michele, thank you for your uplifting post and a summary of so many wonderful things, as well as the troublesome. You are inspirational. I have ongoing bladder, vaginal, anal and hip issues and its so good to know one is not alone. When wiping, mopping up, changing clothes, attending appointments, its good (from a feeling connected perspective) to think that others go through the same (and far worse). I'm so sorry you lost your bestie. Friends transform the world. Very pleased that your lung is clear. Sending love, Mary
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I always look forward to reading your posts. They are inspiring. Thank you for your insight and providing the words that i sometimes struggle to find. Happy New Year!
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I am so happy for you and through it all there are always blessings and you are one of mine... I am so happy that nodule disappeared! men and prayers answered for us both! hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
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Love you Sabina! Sooo happy for you!!
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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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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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