It is interesting to me how cancer is like the great equalizer. I sat behind someone famous who had cancer on a flight recently, and I was able to thank him for his efforts regarding cancer research. This led into a conversation about cancer and how he dealt with it previously and prepares for the future. It was such an interesting conversation. Along those same lines, I now have the urge to talk to anyone who is obviously going through cancer treatments which would probably drive some of my friends crazy.
That urge did serve me well this past weekend though. From talking to someone else in an airport, I learned of a new place to get hats if I need them in the future. Besides that, my brother & sister-in-law wanted to stop in at a car wash fundraiser for someone with breast cancer, and she was there. I was able to talk to her for a few minutes, and I found out that she was having testing for metastasis in her liver. It was nice to be able to talk with her and hopefully give her a little bit of hope that she could be doing well in the near future even if she does end up as stage 4. She asked for my contact information, and I hope that she will reach out if she needs to because it was such a help to me to have people to reach out to that had been in a similar situation. Even if she doesn't, it made me feel good to know that I reached out.
On one of my plane rides, I had an interesting encounter for a different reason. At my initial surgery, they took sentinel lymph nodes from under each arm. Doing this, increases the risk of lymphedema, but it is supposed to be a very small risk if only a few lymph nodes are taken. Of course, me being me, I have ended up with mild cases of lymphedema in both arms which is where you get fluid retention and tissue swelling because the lymph system can't move things out like it is supposed to do. I learned this the hard way after my flight in April when my arm swelled up over an inch bigger. Because of that, I'm supposed to wear an arm sleeve that provides compression whenever I fly (or exercise or work on the computer, ugh). I chose to get my sleeves from a company that makes them colorful or to look like tattoos, etc. instead of just the basic medical looking ones. I chose the ones that look sort of like henna tattoos on the arm because they are more fun, and I have had several people comment on how they can't tell it is a sleeve until they get up close.
Well, on one of my flights this weekend, it was almost full, and there were just a couple of people trying to decide which of the seats they were going to take. This one older women walked past me several times, but finally looked like she had no choice but to sit next to me. Once she was settled, she looked at me and then went "Oh, what is that? I thought you had tattoos?" When I explained it, she apologized for not wanting to sit next to me because of the way I looked. Apparently with my short hair and sleeve, she thought I looked kind of rough or scary. It cracked me up especially b/c I was dressed in a very Loft or Gap type of outfit that was about as far from rough looking as you can get. Here is a picture of one type of the sleeves.
On May 8th, I had the opportunity to do the 5K walk for Miles for Moffitt. While I'm not a patient at Moffitt, I did get a 2nd opinion there, and my cancer related doctors have all trained there. I also figure that this area definitely benefits from any and all research that they do. One nice thing about Miles for Moffitt is that 100% of the proceeds raised go to research as everything else is donated from local businesses. This is such as wonderful thing compared to some organizations that only put 10-18% of the millions raised towards actual cancer research. A friend organized a bunch of people to go and had shirts printed that said "For Nancy". It was especially touching since I had so recently found out that I was no evidence of disease. It allowed me to feel like it was actually okay to wear that Survivor shirt that was part of my race packet as well. Here are a couple of pictures from that day. (Ignore the fact that I was not wearing my sleeves even though it was exercise.....I'm still struggling with the idea of wearing them in front of people along with the fact that May in Florida is hot enough without adding sleeves to it! )