Tag Archives: cancer

Dear 2016…

You sick son of a bitch.

Not only did you claim the coolest celebrities like David Bowie and Prince, but you also turned the United States of America into a trashy reality television show.

You challenged me in ways I never thought possible. You changed my life’s narrative. The dreams I had for this year all took sharp left turns, and am left with lessons and stories to look back on to laugh and cry about.

2015 ended with me newly pregnant and a retired father on the verge of 69. I was elated my parents would be able to enjoy their new grandchild in the new year any day of the week. But 2016 laughed in my face and my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Once she healed from her hysterectomy, she was slated to start chemo a little over a month after that – June 13th.  She’d be smack in the middle of chemo around the time my baby was due, August 1st, and wanted more than anything for my mother to be able to hold my newborn. We were really unsure what her status would be at that point.  Her “last hurrah” so-to-speak was my baby shower on June 11th. She was no longer able to plan it, and was unsure if she would be up to even attend. But she did, and I was thrilled.

In a surprising turn of events, in the early morning hours of June 12th, my water broke and I gave birth to Sloane seven weeks early. You sneaky bastard, 2016. At least mom was able to get in some time with her new granddaughter before starting treatment!

Sloane spent 10 days in the NICU, and mom was not only able to see her the day she was born, but was well enough the next day after chemo to make another visit. Unfortunately that turned out to be the last day she got to see her for about two months. She had a bad reaction to her second day of treatment and became severely dehydrated and almost went into kidney failure. I was in the NICU with Sloane when my dad texted to tell me that mommy was in the hospital.

And there I was in the NICU with my newborn while my mom was in another hospital a few miles away. All I wanted was my mommy, but this was the first time I was a mommy, and my baby needed me. I learned only days into motherhood what my priority was, and my mom was understanding that I didn’t come see her in the hospital, she echoed my sentiments that Sloane is my priority. I called her everyday, though, crying, and giving updates on Sloane and getting updates on her.

As much as I’d like to give the middle finger to 2016, I’d also like to say “thank you.” Thank you for throwing me these situations. While I would have preferred they didn’t overlap, I’m grateful to have walked away from this year knowing my strength.

With that said, I leave you with Christina Aguilera’s Fighter:

 

 

 

Pale and Healthy is Beautiful

Growing up in Long Island in a sea of Italian-Americans with tan skin was difficult as a pale-skin Jewish girl with Russian ancestry. The girls were always holding their arms side by side to see whose arm was tanner. I looked on, green with envy, as I was connected to the arm the loser from that contest held her arm up to to “feel better” about their “lack-of-tan.”

From an early age, my parents, grandparents, and doctors all lectured me to “schmear” sunscreen as my milky skin burns easily, so much so, I was the only kid in the kiddie pool rockin’ a bonnet. As I got older and it became my responsibility to take care of my skin, all the years of lectures went down the toilet. I was brainwashed by my pigment-blessed friends that all I needed to do was get a “base” then the tan would come. But it never did.

Even though in the back of my mind, I always knew I’m not capable of tanning, I still tried. I’ve never seen the inside of a tanning bed, or a tanning salon, even though my best of friends were signing up for punch cards at the nearest Beach Bum, which I desperately coveted. I covered up my jealousy by declaring that Beach Bum sold cancer in a box, and I was quite fine being pale and healthy.

But I wasn’t healthy. I was spending my summers outside all day as a camp counselor not putting on sunscreen. I practically rebelled against the substance. One painful summer at a three-day dance camp, I had to sit out a day because the sun burn I got from the day before got me sick. Sun poisoning at its finest.

I learned my lesson, until I forgot how much it hurt. On the outside I was proclaiming that I don’t mind being pale, I look fine as-is, but in reality, I was arguing with my now husband on every vacation that I don’t need an SPF higher than 30, when it is blatantly obvious that I shouldn’t be allowed in the sun without some sort of sun protective shield.

Last summer I reached an all time low in my quest to take in the sun.  On a trip to Puerto Rico for my best friend’s bachelorette party, somewhere I’ve already been so I knew to heavy up on the lotion, but didn’t as much as I should have. The morning before heading out to the beach, I lathered up my 30 SPF, then took a nap on the beach for a measly half hour.  My friends all thought I looked red by the time I woke up, but I didn’t really feel anything, especially because I jumped right in the water. As the day went on, I started to feel it. I pulled my towel under a palm tree and remained there for the rest of the day.

It didn’t really hit me until we were grabbing dinner. We got out of the car, and I felt dizzy and nauseous, and headed back in the car to wait for them. I tried to lay down, but I couldn’t find a position that was comfortable since my whole body was on fire.

By the time we got back to the hotel, I was done. The girls got ready to go out, while I lathered up in aloe.  I lay in bed naked covered in aloe gel, crying, that at 30 years old I should know better. I was mad at myself for being irresponsible, and was upset I missed my best friend’s night out.

I barely got any sleep that night because of the pain. At one point I got up to use the bathroom and reapply aloe.  As I was in there, I began to feel dizzy, so I finished up and began to walk back to the bed. Next thing I knew I woke up on the floor. I had fainted. This was not the way I was planning to faint on this trip!

The outcome of this burn hit me harder than any other. I was embarrassed that as an adult, I had let this happen to myself, when I knew damn well the consequences.  I never want to feel the pain of a sunburn again, nor do I ever want to walk around ashamed as an adult that I have one, and lastly, I do not want skin cancer.

To my fellow fair-skin beauties: You are you, and you are beautiful. Keep that flawless skin healthy.

Morning, Laurie.