real time/real world

The crazy world we now live in dictates weapon screening even at Penn Medicine in Radnor, PA. A place to help people and heal them is now required to screen every single person. I think that’s kind of sad. It doesn’t take long, but eyeglass cases will set it off.

So the reason I was, there is my second cancer after breast cancer 12 years ago is skin cancer. I’m fair skinned, genetically predisposed, and an avid gardener.

I was at a regular dermatologist appointment and while doing a scalp check, a spot was found, literally on the back of my head. I have rather thick and long hair, so it’s literally a spot that has never seen sun. So it’s fascinating where skin cancer will go.

The pathology came back positive for basal cell skin cancer. There are three types, basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. I have had surgeries for basal cell and squamous cell removal, including a skin graft on my face.

I never had a regular dermatologist before breast cancer. It was one of the list of requirements of doctors I needed to have in my repertoire, post, radiation treatment and also thanks to breast cancer meds. I had tried other dermatologist before the ones I have at Penn Medicine years ago when I was forced by geography to have Main Line Health as my local hospital system on a then HMO. My doctors have always been through Penn Medicine so during these years, all my doctors at Penn Medicine were out of network which meant a lot of the time I paid for them myself. I personally think this was some kind of a Main Line Health turf war because it was right when Penn Medicine was coming into Radnor.

Anyway, those dermatologists I tried out from another hospital system because I didn’t really have a choice then and couldn’t afford everything out of pocket in a word sucked. I tried a couple different ones and the emphasis was always on basically kind of cosmetic creams and fillers like Botox. So I never had a regular dermatologist until early 2012. And from that point forward I have had all sorts of things removed that were predominantly basal cell but also as I mentioned, squamous cell. I have had two prior Mohs surgeries before this most recent Mohs a week ago.

Mohs is a very specific surgical and scientific procedure done under local anesthesia. It’s a very methodical process of scraping away layers of skin and testing them in a lab right then in there until all the cancer cells are gone.

The Mohs surgery last week resulted in a golf ball sized wound with space around it after the procedure that is well, devoid of hair. I could post a photo, but I won’t. It might gross some of my readers out. So the whole thing is about 3 inches smack in the middle of the back of my head.

Why am I writing about this? Because, although I hate breast cancer awareness month, it is technically Pinktober and people are paying attention, even if they’re spending money on pink plastic crap. As a survivor of breast cancer, I don’t like Pinktober. But I am using it to draw awareness to what cancers in women can make women feel like.

As a breast cancer survivor, I can tell you that breast cancer will hit at the core of a woman’s self image. As a woman, you have a choice to get past it or let it swallow you. But in order to get past it, you have to allow yourself to feel some of the feelings you’re feeling.

Before my breast cancer surgery, I had to face a few things. And one was that depending on what they found, I could lose an entire breast and depending on what they found I could also face chemotherapy and complete hair loss along with radiation treatment. I ended up with a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy with clear margins and radiation. I never did breast reconstruction. I decided that wasn’t for me and I was lucky I didn’t have to have chemo.

But even with no chemo and just radiation, I have faced many mixed emotions over the years. I knew post cancer treatment breast reconstruction wasn’t for me. You see, as a woman finding out exactly what they have to manipulate to get good mammograms on women with implants it just seemed like something I did not want to do. That was my choice, and I certainly do not begrudge the choices of other breast cancer survivors. And truthfully, many breast cancer survivors, who get prophylactic double mastectomies often choose to go flat athe rest of their lives, and not do reconstruction at all.

But now, as a result of this latest skin cancer procedure, I am actually facing a post cancer removal reconstruction surgery. On the back of my head. If I don’t have the procedure that draws the wound together, I will end up with a rather large permanent spot of alopecia for lack of a better description and that is because a Mohs surgery removes layers of skin until the cancer is gone and you have clear margins. So it took hair follicles with it.

This is kind of a lot for me to contemplate and I’m working through it. And I decided there are many things I can do without, but the hair in the back of my head is not one of them and it’s not like I’m getting hair plugs or anything like that, it’s literally drawing the two sides of the Mohs post surgery wound together and then the hair just grows back. But what that means is that for a while I will probably have a bald spot/shaped spot the size of a softball on the back of my head.

I dare any woman to say that that’s 100% OK. It’s hard and I will get through it but it has made me face some of those self body issues that I faced many years ago as a new breast cancer survivor and I found that interesting, so I’m writing about it.

I don’t know if you remember, but a couple of years ago this time of year, a woman posted a photo of me in a hospital gown on Facebook to inquire as to whom I was when she already knew because she had posted a photo that was taken before my breast cancer surgery 12 years ago. It was a purely spiteful, female move to have a go at me. it was a photo that back then I had been public about, so posting a photo like that of a woman at a vulnerable moment in a hospital gown was just spiteful. She did it because of her politics, essentially. She was a super Trumper and anti-masker/anti-vaxxer. She used to make a public spectacle of herself at school board meetings in one district.

I know people like to think I am this horrible bloggeress and am heartless and whatever pejorative adjectives are ascribed to me at the time. Honestly, for the most part, I don’t care. I can’t control the jam of whoever is doing it and usually it’s because they don’t like something I’ve written, or they disagree, but they don’t have the basic intelligence to either discuss it rationally like a grown-up, or just move on to something else on the Internet.

I’m sharing this because a regular dermatologist for skin checks for skin cancer is something that people often just don’t make time for and it’s important. And skin cancer doesn’t care about your sex, race, creed, color.

Thanks for stopping by.

breast cancer is neither pink nor fluffy

I saw these in a store on Saturday. The people running the store couldn’t tell me what percentage of profits went back to a breast-cancer charity if at all.

#Pinktober is something that any of us who have had breast cancer or are currently in treatment for breast cancer will tell you to pay attention to.

The true believers think that they are doing us a favor and honoring us who have or have had the disease by buying something pink. The truth is you’re not.

Look at the irony of buying products the turn pink for October as a marketing ploy which contain carcinogens. So you’re buying something you think is going to honor a friend or family member or other loved one who has had this awful disease and are you?

I don’t think you are.

I think people need to educate themselves on good solid breast cancer charities and if you’re buying something during the month of #Pinktober you need to know exactly how much is going to a non-profit.

There are three breast cancer charities I think or extraordinarily worthy and one of them is based in Chester County. Here is my list:

Unite For Her

Living Beyond Breast Cancer

The pink ribbon culture is ridiculous. The #Pinktober culture is a marketing scheme. It’s called Cause Marketing. It’s about the bottom line of corporate America. Not those of us who are survivors or who are in treatment. There is MORE cause marketing for breast cancer than anything else.  Don’t fall for it.

You want to do something? Support those who have had or who are being treated with the disease by maybe doing something nice for them. Or if you feel the need to give a donation, do your homework and find legitimate charities that actually donate MORE to research or welfare then to their operating expenses.  Read the IRS form 990s of non-profits. Don’t get Pink Washed. Do your homework.  (Read this about the New York State Attorney General’s Office stopping a bogus charity I had written about a few years ago.)

By all means, support legitimate efforts to fund research and help women and families affected by breast cancer.  Men too. Because men get breast cancer too.  But do not think that pink box of crackers or energy drink haunting grocery store and drug store aisles or the t-shirt bought in a mall store is actually helping.

This isn’t a soft and fluffy disease. Breast cancer is not friendly or perky. So pink during October makes me want to scream or even throw-up.  I think the pink saturation does good.  I think it makes money for corporate America.

You do not have to believe me. But please, #ThinkBeforeYouPink

Watch this movie if you have the time:


not my tea party


Greetings Chester County voters. It’s me, your friendly neighborhood blogger. Maybe the Bill Holmes campaign in East Whiteland isn’t going so well?

I am thinking so because it has come to my attention that either the Democratic Party of Chester County or the Democratic Party of East Whiteland seem to have an awful lot to say about this blog and blogger.  Seriously, there is this woman whom I don’t know and have never met and who I am told is not just a Democrat in charge in East Whiteland but head of the party in ALL of Chester County and who is all in a swivet over me and isn’t that just kooky?

They and she don’t know me from Adam’s house cat, yet VOILA! they are making rather amusing pronouncements. They are putting it out there that I am (among other things)…wait for it… a TEA PARTIER!!!

Me? For real? Do my opinions make them that nervous?

Lordy… ask most Republicans and they will tell you I am an inconvenient Republican at best. Truthfully I am a lot of the time almost a New England Democrat as I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

Not that any of this matters because I know what I am and who I am and am quite comfortable in my own skin. Which is more than you can say about idle political gossip mongers.

door knocking and candidate frequent flyer miles

I am an equal opportunity offender when it comes to politics, and feel free to express my opinion when the mood strikes me. Truthfully I would become an Independent if it did not mean losing my right to vote in primary elections.

As for the Tea Party, I am definitely not one of their chosen people because my opinion of that movement is they are quite frankly ruining the Republican Party.

So this is indeed a fine how de do to politics in Chester County and I very amused and also saddened that a bunch of Democrats would have a problem with any woman exercising her right to choose….politically.

And (big sigh) at the end of the day what this is really and truly about is these political titans are threatened by my friend Maureen Martinez who is running for Supervisor in East Whiteland.

I mean gosh oh golly, why else would they do all the silly things they have been doing? So when they can’t do anything productive all of a sudden because we are two women with opinions we are Tea Partiers? Me-OW! That is as Simple Simon as saying any woman who exercises a strong opinion about anything is a bitch.

What saddens me here in addition,  is it is difficult  for any woman anywhere to get any traction in politics. So here is this head of a political party who happens to be female running around doing this stuff which is so childish. Democrat or Republican, actions like these set women back, plain and simple. And I am not some huge bra burning women’s libber saying that, it just happens to be the truth.

The irony is of course I have no political aspirations, I am merely one woman exercising my freedom of speech. This is hardly all I write about. Truthfully it is a very small component of it.

I guess this whole issue is an interesting testament to the power of the written word? But is it really good politics to try to sully the name of a breast cancer survivor she’s never even met during Breast Cancer Awareness Month? I guess this issue is also testament to the nature of women which is so disappointing at times isn’t it? Women should be kinder to each other and for me personally, this is a takeaway lesson.

Geez Chesco Dems you are being silly , silly, silly….it’s like high school all over again. But if you wanted to find a tea party here, you won’t.

Maybe y’all should spend a little more time on your candidates and educating them on real issues that matter to people versus this kind of whisper down the lane nonsense that demeans you and your candidates equally.

Happy Friday all!

b is for blogging, b is for breast cancer

I will update the post once the article is available online. I am doing my part for breast cancer awareness month and it doesn’t involve pink plastic bracelets.

Blogging Through Breast Cancer is on second page of this special section.