Off My Chest

Kicking cancer's ass and beyond

My Peach-colored Son

My Peach Colored Son

By: Chellie Gardiner

 

It is not hard to see why the issue of racism has come to the forefront of our collective attention. The murder trial of George Zimmerman for shooting and killing Treyvon Martin has been all over the news as have been the reactions of many. This trial was about civil rights, profiling, bigotry, and then finally the violent shooting death, the murder, of a young black man by a light skinned adult man. There is no question in my mind that Mr. Zimmerman profiled and went after Treyvon Martin on that February night. Had he stayed inside his car or followed the directives of the 911 operator, it is almost certain that young Mr. Martin would still be with us. I am also convinced that Zimmerman believed that he was doing the right thing and viewed himself to be protecting his neighborhood. Based on the content of the conversation of the mutual phone calls the two men made, they both were suspicious of each other based on profiling.

Zimmerman decided that the Martin boy was a thug because he was wearing an article of clothing often chosen by young toughs, he was black, and he was walking out in the dark in a neighborhood that had seen several recent robberies. Martin identified Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker” over the phone to the friend with whom he was speaking. My Chihuahua has a hoody however, and she is not a thug. She is also black and requires a night time walk. I am Caucasian and out with her during those night time walks. I would prefer not to think of myself as a creepy-ass-cracker. This kind of oversimplification is as unhelpful as it common. Being African American while wearing a hoody during an evening walk was certainly not a crime. Unfortunately, there is a huge number of hoody wearing black guys in jail for committing all sorts of awful crimes including burglary. “More than 846,000 black men were incarcerated in 2008, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice estimates reported by NewsOne. African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population according to census data, but black men reportedly make up 40.2 percent of all prison inmates”, states Ohio State University law professor and civil rights activist Michelle Alexander. On the other hand, almost all serial killers are white guys that could be accurately described as “creepy”.

            They both had reason to each be concerned about the other. If Zimmerman was following me while I was out walking down the street at night, I might think of him as “creepy” and would feel completely justified in my concern. I would also view Martin with some anxiety if I were out by myself and saw him walking slowly down my street. I am a 5’ 8 ½”, fairly fit Veteran of the US Army, and I served my country during Desert Storm. If I had to be out alone (or with the aforementioned Chihuahua) I would view either and/or both men as a possible threat to my wellbeing despite the fact that I can take pretty good care of myself in a confrontation.

So where does my “peach-colored son” come into this, you might be wondering… and also “What in the heck are you talking about… a peach-colored son… what?” My peach-colored son is something I did right as a parent, and it has everything to do with today’s discussion. I enrolled my son in something called “Computer Tots” when he was in pre-school. I knew that computers were going to be a large part of the future, so I wanted him to have a head start in their use. One afternoon when I was picking him up from his class and driving home, he happily told me that he had a crush on a little girl in his class. I smiled and asked him to tell me about her. He explained to me that her name was Maria, and she was really nice and pretty and that she had long black hair. He then pointed at his own skin and elaborated that Maria was “peach, just like me”. For him, the color of his skin and hers was a method by which he could better describe her. The color of her skin was peach, not Hispanic, just peach. His well-tanned, Caucasian skin was peach. To him, they had the same color skin, mostly, because they had the same colored skin. There was no Hispanic or Caucasian colored crayons in his art box – or in his head. He, to put it quite simply, had been raised that way. Her color was merely a descriptor, not a delineator…. which is as it should be. We all should be cautious of those we don’t know regardless of color. Trouble comes in every color as does kindness. My son believed this and still does. This country could take a few lessons from my peach-colored son.

A Gift From Out Of Left Field

The expression “Out of left field” supposedly comes from my home town of Chicago. One theory is that when the Chicago Cubs moved to what is now Wrigley Field  in 1915, The University Of Illinois College Of Medicine built its Neuropsychiatric Institute building in what had been left field. In other words, left field became where they teach all about crazy – I’m sure I’m in their textbook somewhere.  Another is derived directly from the experience of players. A runner attempting to score from third base will have his back to left field, thus a throw to the plate “out of left field” can arrive seemingly out of nowhere as a surprise to the runner.

Anything coming from “Out of left field” is unexpected and almost always unpleasant… like cancer. Nobody gets up in the morning and plans to have cancer that day nor does anyone pencil it into their calendar for the Tuesday after next. It slams into you from way out of left field with the speed and hideous destructive power of a tornado. The treatments for cancer come from that same left field. I was all of a sudden faced with a myriad of new words, acronyms, tests, gigantic pieces of equipment, sharp needles, doctors, and… options. Options are decisions you must make that will affect your whole life – or lack thereof. The clock is ticking madly away and you have to decide which painful option to go with… but no pressure. You can’t not make a decision, because not deciding is also a decision and it is not recommended, as you‘ll most likely die… sooner rather than later.

It’s kind of ironic that in my case, cancer didn’t hurt at all until they started hunting it down and killing it. I’m all for that mind you, especially the killing it part, but the process always seems to involve some sort of discomfort.

Very scary arm wrestling opponent

Discomfort, if you didn’t know, is the medical term for pain. “Pinch a little” means “nasty burning pain”. “This will only take a minute” means that “it’s going to hurt quite a bit, but hopefully for a short period of time”.  “I’m so sorry, but we have to do this” translates to “This could quite possibly feel worse than anything you’ve ever felt in your whole life including an attack by killer bees, being run over by a bus, or arm wrestling Godzilla.”  I’m sure I could come up with some more of these translations – and that you have your own –  but let’s go on to something better.

I received a gift from out of left field.  A beautiful gift from out of left field. Well, actually it came from a person, not a field, left or otherwise. And it came in the mailbox that usually contains only junk mail, bills, and notices of more medical appointments. As soon as I see one of those appointment cards, my stomach sinks to my feet as I wonder what further torture that killing this rat-bastard-cancer will require. Anyway, the point is that something wonderful came unexpectedly from someone I never even met. It came just when I needed a reminder that not all surprises are bad and that the unexpected can be wonderful.  A woman who reads my blog came across something that made her think of me. That fact alone makes me happy. That my scribbles are read by somebody other than my mother still thrills me. Having what I write impact someone enough so they think of me afterwards and want to do something nice for me, blows my mind. She contacted me through Facebook and explained that she would like to have a mailing address to send something to me. She told me that it was nothing really, just a token, but that she thought of me when she saw it and so she bought it. For me. I gave her the address of course and promptly filed the conversation away in one of the filing cabinets in my head labeled “maybe-maybe not”.

Little tiny package

It came in the teeniest, most adorable little package I have ever seen, all wrapped in brown paper. It barely had enough room on it for stamps. Just the package all by itself made me smile, it was that cute. Then I opened it. If this were a TV show, now is when it would be continued until next week or at the very least, go to commercial. This is not a TV show though and I am not all that fond of commercials so…

I just LOVE this!

How lovely is this?!!! I tried to photograph it against black, but I don’t know how to turn off the flash and you couldn’t see it at all because all the dainty sparkles reflected so much it became a big white blur. Beige countertop will have to do as a backdrop as the flash wasn’t an issue with it. The closeup shot lets you see how truly delicate and intricate my new bracelet is.

Delicate and dainty… LOVELovelove this!

 

As beautiful as this piece of jewelry is, what is more beautiful to me is the sentiment behind it. In these days of texts, instant messages, and instant gratification for that matter, that someone took the time to send this to me means so very much on every level. I’m sure Karen (she said I could use her name if I wanted) had no idea of how validating her gift to me would be. I started writing this to help  anybody else that I could – patients, families, doctors, nurses, technicians, and especially those wondering if any of this applies to them. It really-truly-honestly didn’t occur to me that I would be helping myself  or that I would become a writer looking for validation. This journey certainly has bumps and jolts and falling-off-cliff moments, but like the rest of life,  I have found that there is balance in this too. To balance the fear and pain and uncertainty, there are moments of such heart-aching love and beauty and laughter and grace…  and a bracelet from someone I never met, out of left field.

What A Perfect Theory!

Image  Because the cancer I am beating required pretty massive surgery, there was a fair amount of recovery time needed before I could reclaim some of the important parts of my life. Street skating is one of those parts that had to wait for me. While it waited, with the street beckoning every day, my poor traumatized body healed – but lost some of it’s strength and endurance. So, what was once simply a good run is now a real struggle. I love whoever the genius was that came up with the idea of Interval Training. I am convinced that some really clever person was at some gym or another – with a horribly over-demanding class or trainer or workout partner or something and came up with this idea to save their life, while preserving their dignity. I can picture them staggering from the gym and heading for a medical library (and maybe some oxygen), desperate to find some way to slow down the pace to something survivable. Then, they were off to the laboratory to prove the theory they looked for and found supporting evidence for. And they proved it to be correct and have saved us all from loss of dignity – at least in that regard, except for me. Falling down the staircase at Versailles pretty much blew it for me in the whole dignity department I suppose. Fell absolutely ass over teakettle and I couldn’t even blame any of those French people either – I just fell… all the way down.

That is a whole different story though.  Anyway, there are really nifty terms like Lactate threshold, effective cardiovascular build-up, anaerobic exercise, and vVO2max. That translates to “velocity at maximal oxygen uptake”. I’ve read the definition a few times and I’m still not sure exactly what it means, but it sounds really cool.  I’m thinking of getting it printed on a tee shirt and wearing it while I’m out skating just in case. I’ll just airily wave a hand at my tee shirt, inviting them to ignore my red face, my gasping for breath, and the fact that I look like someone turned a garden hose on me, because I am so soaked with sweat. I am just pausing for scientific reasons, certainly not because I can’t maintain that kind of speed without dying – sooner rather than later. And so it came to pass that I can now slow down my skating pace without feeling like a quitter or a loser or any of the other colorful names I’ve hurled at myself over the years to keep myself going. I’m not one of those – oh no! I am taking the scientific approach, that’s all. That will do until I can keep up with my former self again… and go hell-bent-for-election the whole way.

And In The Blink Of An Eye…

HIT that corner – Ya-freakin-hooooo

It’s gone. In the blink of an eye, it’s gone. Not a blink exactly. More like several blinks since this saga began. What’s gone? Quite a bit of my strength and stamina is just flat missing, that’s what. Three or four months ago, I was skating at least 8 1/2 miles a few times a week and on some days, as much as 11 miles. I felt great afterwards. I was energized and ready to take on anything. Now I’m blinking alright. I’m blinking streams of sweat out of my eyes at a point when I would have been just warming up before. I’ve been skating ever since my “little” sister taught me how about 14 years ago so she would have somebody to skate with. She was capable of wonderful tricks and spins and “twirlies” and could absolutely blow your mind (and your doors off) with her speed. She could go backwards faster than anybody else, certainly faster that I could go frontwards. She was even in the newspaper once and the picture of her was such a glorious blend of strength and grace that I framed it and presented it to her. In the blink of an eye, that too was gone. She has been chronically and painfully ill for years now and I have been forced to carry on solo. I miss her every time I skate and some days when I don’t feel like hitting the street, I do it for her because she cannot. Hopefully she can skate again with me someday. People think I’m absolutely crazy for skating like I do, particularly at my age. You just don’t find too many 49 year old skater punks out there… I skate for a number of other reasons as well. I love the sport which requires an odd combination of strength, stamina, coordination, and plain old balls-to-the-wall daring. The rewards are magnificent stress relief (I jokingly say I haven’t killed anyone in years), all over fitness, and a huge dose of those wonderful home made drugs called adrenaline and endorphins. Like a lot of self confessed Adrenaline Junkies, part of the fun is pushing myself as hard as I can… and then some. It’s a high speed, demanding sport that takes all you’ve got and then gives it right back to you. I must confess that it’s been amusing to leave some pretty bad-ass teenagers in the dust …  Well now my past self is leaving my present self in the dust. From this I’ve learned a couple of things which surprised me. First, to give my pre-cancer-battling self  a bit of credit for skating hard and fast for a long time. Somebody would offer me a compliment and I would respond by saying it wasn’t that big a deal or not that hard or that it sounded harder that it was. Ha! Starting over has taught me a new sense of admiration for what I did for all those years. I’m trying to learn to say “yay me” which for some stupid reason is very damn difficult. Secondly I have figured out that when “they” said that getting back  into shape is harder than it was to get in shape in the first place, they were wrong. Yup, that invisible “they” was wrong. It is not harder. My expectations were higher, that’s all. When I started skating distance all those years ago, my route was 4.2 miles from my house to the beach road and back. When I really thought  about it, I recalled thinking that it was quite possible that I would die of heat exhaustion before I made it back home. I remembered actually throwing up, but not quitting, mostly because I had to some how stagger back home, but hey – a little “yay me” here because I went out and skated that same route again…. and again… and again.    So I will do that again…and again… and again, partially for my much-loved sister, but for me too. And in the blink of an eye, I’ll have that “me” back. Yay me.

Yesterday Afternoon

So, yesterday afternoon was one of the best days ever! Actually, one of our friends visiting from out of town said it WAS the best day of her whole life… We went to the “Friday Sunset Club” which sounds a lot more organized than it is. It’s just a casual get together at a sand bar, which a bunch of people with boats all turn up at after work on Fridays when we can. Texts and phone calls fly back and forth, but it’s pressure free and very casual. If you can make it, you are welcomed and if you can’t… well, we’ll miss you until next Friday. I think there were about 10 boats there, all filled with assorted friends, who come to recharge, catch up, and enjoy the truly spectacular show that Mother Nature puts on for us.  The water was Bahama Blue and crystal clear and there were two pods of dolphins feeding and playing at their “Sushi Bar”.  Twice, a dolphin chased a fish so close up to, and almost on the sand bar that we all gasped and stepped back – rapidly, I might add. Sand and water were sprayed into the air and we all were completely awestruck by their powerful grace and close proximity. These dolphins call this area home and we can identify some of them by their dorsal fins because we see them fairly frequently. There is no schedule other than that provided by the setting sun.  The end of the show was announced by very impressive storm clouds, tinted with sunset and shot through with lightning, rolling in. Everybody reluctantly, but hurriedly packed up beach chairs, towels, and coolers, exchanged hugs all around, and shouted out invitations and plans for the rest of the weekend as we piled into our boats and skedaddled before the storm hit. I wasn’t smart enough to take any pictures, but a few people were able to get some great shots and have promised to forward them to me. I’ll add them as soon as I get them. Times like this remind me of how lucky I am to have this life, in this place, with these people. They remind me that even when life is especially hard because of this rotten cancer, it is certainly worthwhile. I will grab every ounce of joy out of every moment that I can and savor it… like yesterday afternoon.

And The Crowd ROARED

I am really lucky that I have a crowd around me cheering me on while I kick cancer’s ass. Not everybody can say this and I do not take it for granted even for one second. Staples came up the idea of an “Easy Button”. I think we’d all be WAY better off with an “Applause Button” than an “Easy Button”. First, for whatever reason, things that come easily to us, we just don’t appreciate – at least most of us. Maybe Mother Teresa was good enough to take nothing for granted, but most people, not so much. Second, there is just not enough applause and cheering for many people in this world.  A lot of people go their whole lives with no cheering.  That is sad to me as cheering isn’t all that hard to do really – and it can change a life. The people that populate my cheering section are all different and from all sorts of places. Sort of like wonderful souvenirs of my life so far, I have packed them up and carried them with me. Some have been around since the beginning and some are new on the scene.  Some I am related to. Some have been friends for years. Some are new friends. Some, I have never met in person, but on Facebook, WordPress (where my blog is published), twitter, LinkedIn, and other similar places. I have noticed that the crowd, like most crowds, moves around and changes. Some people drift away, some I have asked to leave, some left for their own reasons. Some are diehards and I know that the chance of their leaving drifts between slim and none – Yay. Some bring their own crowd with them. They all roar in different ways too. They send flowers and gifts, visit, call, write cards and notes, and post comments and “likes” on various and assorted social media. Please feel free to like, recommend and share the hell out of this blog by the way. Different people, at different times, move to the head of the crowd and they seem to move there when I need them most. My Mom and my boyfriend have been the ones most involved with this whole process and have been beyond terrific. The rest of my family has also been really there for me. They say (actually one of my sisters told me) that you will find out a LOT about people when you battle a disease as dreaded as cancer. I was prepared to be disappointed. I was not prepared to be so completely overwhelmed by love, kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. I received more than 12 bouquets of flowers! I was given fruit, quiche, candy, teddy bears, socks, pajamas, cake, cookies, cards, a survivor’s bead for my Pandora, real food while in the hospital, and more. Smiles and gentle hugs were not doled out, but heaped upon me. It seems that people are taking turns coming to the front of this wonderful crowd and this happened in a big way the other day. This by the way is only one example of the many times this has happened with many different people, but it’s a good one. My brother, Chris called to see how I was doing and catch up a bit. Something that he said really resonated with me. I love that word… resonated…  Anyway he knew, from another sister – I have three and two brothers, that this past week has been pretty tough in regard to pain. I skate some pretty high mileage to deal with stress and to help keep my body is decent shape. The stress handling part works well. Proof of that is the couple of people still walking around and breathing that really deserved to be killed. At any rate, Chris knows this, as does anybody that has spent any time talking to me. When I told him that I was trying to skate through some of the pain he told me that I should “see” him on the side of the road, jumping up and down and cheering “go baby go!”. He said that I should just imagine him whenever I needed a boost like the people yelling for a team or a competitor.  So, I did. And it worked. I mean it really worked. I could almost see him on a corner waving and I could hear his voice in my head. And it help me get through a tough skate when I wanted to quit because I was too tired to be my own cheerleader. And because he was there, I kept going. And I love him for it. And I love everybody that has helped along the way. I even love those that haven’t helped yet, because we have not yet met. Because everybody needs a cheering section and I am lucky enough to have one now when I really need it… So dear cheering section, please know that your cheering is very valuable to me and priceless and irreplaceable. When my crowd ROARS, my heart sings and I get a little stronger and a little further along this strange journey of kicking cancer’s ass. Thank you and may the universe find some way to gift you for your loyal and warm support. At the very least, you know you have me, cheering for you, whenever and where ever you need it. Much love to you all.

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Thank you Kobe

This note is for my very large German Shepherd, Kobe. I know he can’t read, nor does he have an FB page so you might wonder why this is here. It will save on my therapy bill and plus this page IS Off My Chest and that is what it is really for. So: Dear Kobe, my bending over to stretch out my legs after skating is not an invitation for you to jam your cold wet nose up my ass. I did not think it was funny when I startled and rammed my head into the refrigerator, hard. I think the fact that you walked away laughing at me to be, at the very least, a character defect. Bath time is now coming sooner than you thought my friend, sooner than you thought. Love, MomImagehumor, dogs,

 Platitude Free Zone

Ok, so apparently having breast cancer is not a bad enough diagnosis for some people. They have to come up with all kinds of diseases, symptoms, and scenarios that are much worse than mine are and tell me all about them. Really? My double-mastectomy-requiring-cancer isn’t awful enough for you? Really? The fact that I have to endure radiation treatment 5 days a week for at least 5 weeks isn’t horrible enough for you? Really? The fact that I have to undergo extremely painful treatments from my Plastic Surgery Team every week (that make me feel as if I’ve been in a car wreck every week) can’t stop you from telling me how it could be worse? Really? The fact that I must have more surgery to avoid being left with only sad scarred empty spaces on my chest where my breasts USED to be is not tragic enough for you? Really?

Well, let me get something Off My Chest (besides my breasts and yes, double entendre intended).  I have been told that I am dealing with all of this pretty well. Actually, I have been told that I am dealing with all of this REALLY well. Maybe too well… because it seems that because I joke about fighting cancer, it might mean that I don’t feel pain/fear/mortality. BUZZZZZZ – wrong answer. I do want to be viewed as a person, not only as a patient for sure, but for the time being, I am both. Have some sensitivity people!

There is NO comparison between having a Breast Augmentation, which is a choice, and a Double-Damn-Mastectomy-with-Reconstruction. Partially because of the NO CHOICE thingy and partially because the surgeries are VERY different.The other difference would be the big death threat hanging over your head as these things tend to do. Being able to have reconstruction is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong, but it is a REPAIR of damage caused by disease, not a cosmetic procedure that I chose because I wanted bigger breasts. I see nothing wrong – repeat – nothing wrong – with elective cosmetic surgery, but that is not what is going on in my world.

I hope that I don’t have terrible side effects from Radiation Treatment (3rd degree burns for example) and I really-truly-honestly do not want a laundry list of everything bad that can happen to me. I already know, trust me. My Dr. has to tell me – by law.

As I have already HAD the double mastectomy, I am completely not interested in hearing about the miracle cure/different surgery/different Dr. that someone thinks would have been a better choice. What am I supposed to do? Go and ask for my cancer ridden breast back so I can try your recommended treatment? Really? Hard to believe, but this conversation actually took place. Really!  I made the best choice for me and that choice has already been implemented. Sheesh, it’s not that hard to figure out.

I ESPECIALLY do not want to know how my situation could be worse than it already is. I do not want to hear how lucky I am that it isn’t X, Y, or Z. Please don’t tell me that this is part of God’s plan or that it’s “All good”. I don’t want to hear about the lady down the street who has it so much worse than I do. When my son was just a baby in 1st grade, his arm was broken in an accident. Some nitwit told him that the lady down the street had leukemia which is so much more serious and that he was lucky by comparison. Really? As sad as the neighbor’s circumstances were, they certainly did not make his poor little broken arm hurt less.  I am also fairly tired of the phrase “pain for beauty”. This again implies choice. Nobody chooses to have cancer. That is where all this came from. Cancer. Not some quest for beauty. No choosing was involved here. I did NOT choose to have this battle except by refusing to lie down and do nothing.

One last thing (unless I think of something else).  Please. Please. If someone tells you they have cancer or whatever other dread disease, take a second. Don’t mouth some platitude just to have something to say. Stunned silence is ok. That’s how most of us felt when we were first told. Hugs are good.Tears can be a bit tricky, but those are real so that’s ok too. But don’t blurt out “that’s the kind they can fix, right?”, or “you’ll be ok” or “you’ll be fine”.  Try really hard not to make it about you and your fears. I am doing my best to deal with all of my own fear right now and probably can’t handle yours. DO tell me “I’m so sorry” or that “this sucks” or that “I am there for you” or “we’ll kill this rat-bastard” or something along those lines. Fixable, ok, and fine? Fixable still means cancer, and so far for me, always means painful with dodgy outcomes.  I may OR  I may not be ok. It depends on what your definition of ok is. What the hell does fine mean? It usually means that those jeans DO make your ass look too big and someone says they look fine because otherwise they are likely to die immediately and in a great deal of pain. Which they richly deserve.

Now that’s off my chest, have a nice day.

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Kudos To Kashi – NOT

I was so impressed by this… for a little minute

Not everything in this blog will be about my health or lack thereof. Some of it will be just to get it Off My Chest.

I saw a notice in the grocery store the other day posted by Kashi. It was an apology and an explanation to their customers. The notice explained that they had discovered that some of the suppliers from whom they bought ingredients for their products were using GMOs. Therefore, they were pulling the effected products from the shelves until they could solve this horrible problem. I thought, “KUDOS TO KASHI! What a responsible thing to do!” Instead of being caught out like some wretchedly self-interested, dirty, money grubbing politician, they said “There is a problem here. We are accepting full responsibility for it, informing you of it, and pulling the product from the shelves to protect you from this low down sneaky supplier.”

All of this was an affirmation that I was buying products from a company that was one of the few “good guys” left. I had been persuaded by their commercials that they really did go to the ends of the earth to find delicious AND healthy ingredients that they would caringly make into food for me and my family. I, like a huge number of other people, willingly paid a good deal more for Kashi products, based on the idea that their products were a better tasting organic choice than other companies offered. I believed that I could have a serving of convenience with my organic food. They had dozens of tasty looking products that were no trouble to make  and a great healthy choice.

After seeing this communique, I went out of my way to pick up a few other Kashi products, both to reward them for their good behavior and to help sustain them through, what I thought would be tough times – because they took the high road. Since then, they have, without any changes, put the same product back on the shelves. They posted a video on social media “starring” some lady who was obviously and poorly reading from cue cards. The boiled down version is that they have some foods that are organic and GMO free and the rest are not. The consumer comments in response to that, showed very clearly, that those who viewed it were something less than placated. They then had their GM do a video. His performance seemed to be just that, a performance. While wearing a giant phony smile, he sniveled about there not being enough organic foods available for them to buy so they had to resort to non-organic and GMO ingredients, and that things would be better by 2014. There was some sanctimonious protesting that every product was well within USDA guidelines. USDA guidelines?! Oh, well I feel much safe now… We all totally trust our government these days, right?

Millions of us switched to organic foods because we didn’t trust the food supply regulated by the USDA in the first place. It had become corrupted by too many ingredients we couldn’t pronounce. Too many things sounded like a laboratory experiment rather than a farm harvest. Some sounded like they didn’t even come from this planet. The companies that made these products had become an invisible they, not someone we knew and trusted so we started buying from the little upstarts that had a new idea. The new idea was to go back to the old ideas – back to the basics of our great grandparents. Kashi was one of these companies. It seems, however that they have fallen away from the original mission. When Kashi published these videos, they accomplished exactly the opposite of their intended goal. They shone a spot light on a company that seemed far more interested in ass-covering than anything else. They became, through their own actions, a corporation to whom we were dollar signs rather than people. Kashi has become the Tiger Woods of the organic market. Because they portrayed themselves as the “Good Guys” that we could all look up to and trust, when they failed us, the backlash was instant and is becoming monumental. It seems they have fallen – far and hard. It will be interesting to see what happens next. I, for one, will be buying someone else’s Seven Whole Grains because I no longer believe them true to their mission.

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Day of reckoning

So when we were both up and getting ready to face the day and he said, “Honey, I think you have a lump in your right breast. I felt it last night.” Just like that my whole world changed. Forever and irrevocably, my everything was changed by those (oh hang on a second, have to count them, ok 15, the count is 15)  15 words. For a split second I just stood there and breathed and then I quickly told him that it must be my glands. They swell and recede like the tides with my cycle and because I am not overly endowed it’s pretty noticeable. Somewhere deep inside though, I knew differently. He accepted my hopeful explanation, kissed me goodbye, and left for work. I took a shower, felt around half-heartedly and haphazardly, found the lump, told myself that “of course it’s glands” and got on with my day.

I have absolutely no idea what I did that day, or the next or even the next for that matter. I can tell you that I kept checking… and that lump went nowhere. It stuck around like the old acquaintance from college that just comes to stay “for a couple of weeks till they get on their feet” and then doesn’t leave. They stay for a long time. Until you ask for some money. Then they find some other softhearted idiot to leach off of and go away muttering indignantly.

Even HIS head isn’t buried…

A couple of weeks of this and even an ostrich would have known that it was indeed a lump that was indeed going nowhere. No matter how many times I checked, the damn thing was still there. I actually talked to myself out loud in the shower. “You have to face this. This is real. You have to do something about this, you big coward.”

I have always talked to myself. Even as a child I would walk into a room and then have no idea what I went in there to do/get/see. Alzheimer‘s, if I should develop it, will be familiar ground, I tell you. So I learned to “speak the mission out loud” to at least have a better shot at remembering it. I regarded people that had the same pencil in school for two days running with awe. I could barely keep track of me, never mind possessions. I discussed this habit of talking to myself with myself and concluded after a spirited debate the following. Talking to myself is ok. Even arguing with myself is ok – unless I lose the argument. If I can’t even convince me of my point of view, well then there is no hope for me.

I gave myself two days to “deal” and got on the phone looking for help and answers. I told no one. I did not cry.

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