Tag: Male Breast Cancer

Valentine’s Day is Special

Valentine’s Day is special to me. Not for the flowers, or the cards or even the chocolate candy that my sweet tooth often craves. But for the birth of my father. If he did not exist then naturally I would not be here. Life is precious.

Mom and Dad

My parents, like many couples that have passed their 50th Anniversary have a special relationship. One cultivated by time. Shared accomplishments tempered by disappointments. Shared losses dulled by new joys. My hope is that her dementia does not cloud her understanding of today’s double celebration.

Growing up, Valentine’s Day meant a heart shaped birthday cake for Dad. Double chocolate with both cake and icing originating at one point in time from the cocoa bean. But at our house Betty Crocker did her share of the prep.

Valentine’s Day 2020

This year marks my Dad’s 81st celebration. I am not there in person but will be mindful of the love and guidance I have received over the years. Hopefully, his card has arrived. It is pretty darn hard to find those Birthday/Valentine’s Day combination cards.

Dad recently endured the last of his radiation treatments for the male breast cancer he is battling. The following day he made a five hour drive to see his brother who is also struggling with serious health issues. I talked with both men that day. Brotherly love emanated over the phone line. But I am sure the visit was bittersweet. It is hard to say goodbye.

Share the Love

The cynics I know view Valentine’s Day as a commercial holiday. They cringe at the expense. But, the day can be celebrated on a budget. Dining in can be more romantic then going to a restaurant.

Furthermore, not everything needs to be purchased. I still remember my 4-H group making Valentine’s cards for the residents in the nursing home. The cost was not great but the joy was priceless.

Valentine’s Day is special. Share the love with family and friends. Life is finite but love is always expanding. Happy birthday Dad and all the other Valentine’s babies out there. If you can’t have a heart shaped cake this year look for heart shaped cookies- I think I will go make a batch.

Double Valentine's Day Themed Wreaths on an entrance
Happy Valentine’s Day

2020 Resolutions

Two years ago I wrote a post with tips for keeping New Year’s Resolutions. Last year I skipped the process, and I did not follow through. In fact I can‘t even recall the goals. So, for my 2020 resolutions I plan to follow a similar path to 2018 in an effort to once again experience success in achieving my goals.

Therefore, I am once again publicly sharing my goals. Putting the 2020 resolutions in print so to speak, deepens the commitment. I am also making them measurable. It is easier to note progress in this way. However, I am also limiting the goals. 2019 was a real roller coaster ride for the family. Hopefully there will not be a major surprise like my Dad’s breast cancer diagnoses. But if the unexpected keeps a constant presence in my life, I would like to have some simple resolutions to ground me.

Goals Related to Econogal

The Econogal blog is near and dear to my heart. So I want to continue strengthening the website. Thanks to the wisdom of a fellow blogger from South Africa, (Click here to discover her blog) I no longer stress about the exact number of posts. However, I do want to make improvements.

To achieve this goal, I plan to spend 30 minutes a week on what I call the backside of the website. Perhaps I will update the header design or tinker with the page background. I will most certainly complete a check of all links. I have already discovered that restaurants can and do go out of business. Thus, their websites become inactive.

2020 Resolution Influences

Two people have influenced my resolution thinking this year. The first is Former Miss Colorado Madison Dorenkamp. Click here to read my interview with her from last year. Madison is a blogger and has just released a post 100 Things Project (Click Here) that I find intriguing. As a Millennial, Ms. Dorenkamp has the energy to succeed in her 100 Things Project. I look forward to following her through the year as she faces her challenges and discovers life.

My other “influencer” is the man I live with. He is a regular reader of the Wall Street Journal. In the last Saturday edition of December 2019 the paper published For the New Year, Say No to Negativity by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister. For those who do not subscribe, the gist of the essay is that negative statements and actions are so strong that it takes four positives to counteract the damage.

I am borrowing from both these individuals. Instead of 100 things, I am going to focus each month on a personal challenge. I will share my experiences in my Monthly Wrap-Ups Section. You may have noticed this new category. I worked on the backside last week to populate the category with my old posts. I do not know what each month will center on, but January is on fitness.

The last of my 2020 Resolutions is connected to positivity. Although I do not think I will turn into a Pollyanna, I will strive not to stress myself or others through negative thoughts and actions. It will be interesting to see how well the rule of four works.

Summarizing Econogal’s 2020 Resolutions

  1. Work 30 minutes per week on the backside of the Econogal website.
  2. Monthly challenges that are shared with the readers of the Econogal website.
  3. Destress my little part of the world through positivity for myself and others.

Of the three resolutions, the last will be the hardest to quantify and measure. But, I think it will be the most important. There are many clichés about the journey of life. One of my favorites is to remember to stop and smell the roses. I hope to share plenty of roses in 2020.

Dozens of Yellow roses
Remember to stop and smell the roses!

 

December 2019 Wrap-Up

December 2019

The last wrap-up of the year is always difficult and the December 2019 Wrap-Up is no exception. So much is crunched into the last 31 days that I don’t know quite where to start. Perhaps a chronological account is best.

I arrived home to the High Plains just a few hours before December 2019 began. The first few days back from an extended stay in Florida were ones filled with chores and catching up with local based family. A home inhabited by a workaholic for five weeks without his faithful sidekick in residence is a home needing just a bit of TLC.

Keeping Traditions

Bowl with Spode TreeAs discussed in an earlier post on Holiday Traditions, I pull out the Spode Christmas Tree china on the first of December. This year the familiar task helped ground me. These same dishes will return to storage New Year’s Day during breaks in watching parades and football games.

I detoured a bit from tradition with the Christmas tree. Over the last few years I had experimented with both a white and a gold artificial tree, the latter a table topper to mixed reviews from family members. The December 2019 tree was a real tree. I went a step further and used family made ornaments and multi-colored lights. The decision was a positive one. My only offspring able to make it home searched the tree with delight to find the personally made ornaments.

Christmas Tree lit with multi-colored lights
A new look for Christmas

Christmas parties are always a part of the year end festivities. This year was no exception. Needless to say, lots of good food was consumed. The relatively mild weather has allowed me to counter the calories with long walks.

Update on Breast Cancer Treatments

Breast Cancer Ribbon
Not for Women Only

My Dad started his radiation treatments this month. It was quite a process as those who have been through it well know. His biggest complaint so far has been the tattooing. There was some difficulty with the breathing (or holding it) during the early sessions. He is retired Army and his hearing has taking a bit of a beating. Fortunately this issue has been resolved with the use of a technician with a lower, deeper and perhaps louder voice.

Dad remains upbeat about his prognosis. I think he is past the stigma, if any on his part, of being a male with breast cancer. I appreciate the fact he allows me to write about his condition and progress. Breast Cancer is best fought when caught early. Since most men do not get routine mammograms, the detection is more difficult. Just knowing it is possible could be helpful to someone out there.

Book Reviews

I released a second annual book review only to be very impressed with the next two books I read. Click here for the 2019 recommendations. I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It is perfect for binge reading. In addition to This Tender Land just reviewed, I have read the latest Janet Evanovich and am working on the first of a new series by Patricia Cornwall. The former was a delightful fun read, the latter is quite technical and centered on our potential journeys into space.

The Garden

The extended stay in Florida coupled with some other fall trips meant I missed my fall planting of garlic. So I popped some cloves in the ground on Boxing Day. The weather was sunny and mild with a forecast of rain turning to snow for the following days. We will see what happens next summer.

I also cleaned up some of the raised row garden and put down a straw mulch for the remainder of the winter. A little bit of the Swiss chard remains green under a hoop tent. But not enough to harvest. My experiments in the garden will most likely continue for a couple more decades.

In the Quilt Room

Quilt strips before sewing in mauve, blue gray and off white
Beginnings of a quilt

Winter weather means a return to the quilt room. I am currently in the cutting stage of a new quilt. The quilt will have grays, mauves, pinks and a few greens and blues in the marbled Bali prints I am including. I love the feeling that comes along with creativity.

Since I will have another great nephew in the summer, I need to start the design process for another small quilt. I love designing even more than the process of quilting. I am not sure what pattern I will choose yet, but it may be in the form of transportation, just not another Train Quilt like I made for his brother. He will need his own. Click here to see the Train Quilt.

2020 Resolutions

I am still working on my New Year’s resolutions. In 2018 I was successful in fulfilling those resolutions. But I fell a bit short in 2019. Perhaps the difference was not making the goals public. So I plan to post my 2020 ideals next week. That gives me a few more days to make my final decision on just what I should strive for next year.

I hope your December 2019 was merry and bright. I admire those who stay upbeat even in the face of adversity. Perhaps I can come up with a concrete way of measuring tenacity and include that in my 2020 resolutions. Happy New Year everyone.

Joyful News!

My family received joyful news this week. The multiple  scans of bone and body showed no cancer spread beyond the one lymph node for my Dad. So, he begins radiation treatment next Monday. For those with more experience than I, it will come as no surprise that in preparation for the treatment he was tattooed.

His first comment to me was “Why would anyone willingly get a tattoo?” I chuckled since I agree, but also have multiple family members with tattoos. Methinks the tattoos are either generational or a fad. Hopefully I will never Have to be tattooed.

Holocaust Survivors

Perhaps my aversion stems from the first time I saw a tattoo. My Mom had stopped outside a store in a strip mall near the beach to talk to an elderly lady she knew. I was young, innocent and curious. (Grade school but I don’t remember which year other than at least 3rd grade.) The lady had some numbers tattooed to the back of her hand.

I flat out asked why. This may have embarrassed my Mom, but her friend seemed glad I asked. She had been a child in a concentration camp during WWII. She gave me my first lesson in the terrors of genocide. Perhaps this is why to this day I read so many stories with a WWII setting. I feel a real connection. And I don’t want to be tattooed!

Cancer

That feeling of connection is the same with cancer. Once you personally know someone who is facing or has faced cancer, you become more attuned. This not only holds true for cancer but other diseases as well. This connectedness can generate both positive and negative feelings.

Thus, it is no surprise that I was extremely stressed out over the last weeks. The unknown is always scary to me. The extent of  Dad’s cancer was unknown. The days felt overly long. However, the docs’ moved fairly rapidly in diagnosing my Dad.

I have supported various funds fighting cancers and diseases I have been personally affected by. And even some causes that I have not had a personal involvement with. I bought into the 1000 Points of Light campaign posited by the late President George H.W. Bush. I feel an obligation as well as a desire to help. I don’t want to leave it to others. Donations have not always been monetary. Time and personal effort have also been given to various causes.

Joyful News

The better than expected results are truly joyful news. My thankfulness will be displayed in many ways. The least of which will be in the form of donations to my favorite causes. Foundations tied to supporting those affected with Breast Cancer will of course figure into the equation.

But there are many ways to express joy. Writing and painting allow one to share the joy. So does designing. Singing and praying also express joy. We often pray when we need something, but thankful, joyful prayer is just as important.

As I said above both positive and negative emotions are generated from a connection. My connection to cancer began as a child. Treatments back then were few. Outcomes were seldom good. This is not the case today. Furthermore, my Dad detected and acted quickly. Thus, in his case the outlook is good. The joyful news is certainly welcome at any time. But it definitely makes this holiday season one for the memory bank.

Breast Cancer Ribbon
Not for Women Only

 

 

 

Waiting and Wondering

Today is the day we finely get to meet the oncologist my Dad has been referred too. It seems like an eternity since the surgery. The waiting and wondering of the last two weeks is almost over. Naturally, there has been a bit of stress.

Dealing with Stress

However, our moods have been fairly upbeat. I attribute this to a couple of things. First, the day after the surgery he felt up to walking. So we did. But we took it easy. A fifteen minute saunter around the neighborhood would be a more apt description. The following day the walk lasted a few minutes longer.

Now Dad is back to his normal pace and time. Thirty minutes of walking at a good pace. Last night he walked on his own while I made an early dinner. He had a club meeting to go to.

He has not resumed lifting weights, but my guess is the surgeon will give the green light next week. The physical activity helps keep the spirits up. Plus, he believes it helps him sleep at night. Octogenarians benefit from exercise and good sleep too.

Family Support

A second positive during this period of waiting and wondering has been support from family and friends. My Dad’s siblings talk with each other on Sunday afternoons. I believe this tradition started when they were in college. For the oldest two, the college years took place in the 1950s. Long distance calls were not common and of course cell phones and their unlimited calling plans non-existent.

Fortunately, staying in touch these days is easier. So the phone calls have been more numerous. The brothers are commiserating since each is now battling cancer. Their younger sister is offering support through prayers and advice.

In my case, my biggest support is my husband. He flew down over the Veteran’s Day holiday. Even though the visit was brief, my spirits were buoyed. I just wish the distance wasn’t so great.

My kids have texted and called and my daughter-in-law has shared videos and pictures of the youngest member of the family. The little miss has mastered rolling over and cut her first tooth. Wonderful milestones to offset the waiting and wondering.

Friends

Support from friends played a big role during the last sixteen days since the surgical waiting room. On a couple of occasions my Dad joined friends for lunch. And he stays active in his Lodge meetings. He also continues to visit my Mom in the nursing home. Unfortunately, her dementia makes support from that quarter flighty at best.

Since my friends are distant, the support comes from phone calls, including a timely one yesterday regarding the purchase of Kentucky Oaks tickets. The email from Churchill Downs had gone to the Spam box. Fortunately, my time block to buy is later today. Kentucky Oaks Day highlights the fight against breast cancer. Survivors march along the track prior to the race for three year old fillies. I love Oaks Day. Attendance next year will be exceptionally meaningful.

Reading and Researching

Most of my reading the last two weeks has been via the Internet. Armed with preliminary lab reports from his mastectomy, I am reading mostly so I can follow the conversation he will have with the oncologist this afternoon. I am very grateful for the thorough website of the American Cancer Society. Male breast cancer is not common.

The waiting and wondering will continue after today’s appointment. But, I am hoping for an action plan of a sort. Obviously more testing will be done to see if other areas of the body have been affected.

I am not sure how much fighting my Dad will do. Side effects of cancer treatment vary by type as well as by the individual. Whatever decisions he makes, I will support. It is the least I can do.

Breast Cancer Ribbon
Not for Women Only

 

 

 

Observations and Thoughts From a Surgical Waiting Room

Breast Cancer Ribbon
Not for Women Only

Surgery is difficult for both the patient and those in the waiting room. Some waiting rooms have more tension in them than others. A waiting room for elective surgery for example does not throw off the same stressed out vibes as one reserved for emergency room surgeries. But you find a mix of personalities in both.

Unfortunately, I have been in more than my share of surgical waiting rooms. So I have experienced both the life and death feeling as well as the mere anxiety that something could go wrong even with a fairly healthy patient. I tend to be the quiet one waiting in a corner. Although one time I was the only one waiting. Hospitals always have some level of noise in the background.

Elective Surgery

Today I am waiting on an “elective” surgery patient. But many, especially during this month of breast cancer awareness, would question the term elective. Unfortunately, a close member of my family found a lump in the right breast. It is being removed as a type. At 31 mm it is somewhat size-able. Why was it not found in a routine mammogram? Because most men do not undergo routine scans.

Yes, a male member of the family is having a tumor removed. I am thankful that during this month of breast cancer awareness, various media outlets including CBS, stressed that men can get breast cancer. This spotlight motivated the patient to not put off getting help.

Obviously, at this point in time I do not know if the tumor is cancerous. His doctors were in agreement that the lump needed to come out regardless of unknown toxicity. The needle biopsy that can be a prelude to removal was skipped. Perhaps the family history played a part in this. Or a belief that a quickly growing tumor needs to come out before it causes problems.

Waiting Room Patient Confidentiality

Back to the observations. This particular waiting room uses numbers instead of names to give the standard updates of when a patient goes into surgery or is in recovery. The numbers are displayed on a screen similar to those that show arrivals and departures at an airport. Instead of comments such as On Time and Delayed, this board posted Pre-op, Procedure-In-Progress and Recovery alongside a long number. Only the patient’s family knew which number represented their loved one.

There is a mixture of singletons as well as clusters of families waiting to hear the magical words that the patient is in recovery. Additionally, several languages fill the room. Along with the snores. More than one individual has fallen asleep. Not surprising since most of the same day surgeries require an early check-in. I woke the patient at 5 A.M. in order to make the drive for a 6:30 arrival and a ten in the morning surgery. The process is lengthy which can add to the stress.

Final Thoughts

In my case, I am not as worried about the procedure as I am about the final diagnosis. For an eighty year old, my Dad is in fantastic shape. He still lifts weights and exercises regularly. So the surgery should go well.

It is the findings that are concerning. Cancer or no cancer? If cancerous how far along? Difficult when you are the only surviving child. So many decisions to be made by the patient. So many by the caregiver. I am hoping for the best case scenario. Only time will tell.