The best medicine…

A few years past my diagnosis and surgery I have finally begun to process a lot about my cancer and ensuing treatment. Make no mistake about it, rectal cancer treatment is awkward and weird (for me at least it was, but I don’t let that shame own me anymore).

There are quite a few instances of things that stick out in my head: the rectal examinations from different doctors (so many), rectal contrast, having doctors constantly coming in the room to ask if you can roll over so they can look at my butt and ‘flap’ (this is what they called the reconstructed part of my vagina). Oy vey, I do not miss the hospital!

Rectal cancer is not funny. At all. But I would be remiss if I did not think back to some moments during my journey and laugh.

…coming out of the bathroom on one of those first visits to MD Anderson and exclaiming to my husband and mom “I pooped!” They both cheered! At first we thought a stent might have to be put in so I could continue to pass stool…that never happened…

…My surgeon, Dr. You at MD Anderson, reminding us this was going to be a marathon not a sprint, to which my husband replied we really don’t even like walking out to check the mail…

…the time after surgery when I commented I literally never had a reason to get up with my ostomy AND catheter both in. My husband immediately remarked how wonderful this sounded and confided he was jealous!

The truth is, medical providers giving you this treatment have done this so many times. It’s my hope in sharing this that we realize the worst things that happen to us, we can get through. We can endure. Often times in the moment with tears and anxiety and afterwards with tears of relief and laughter. Not always. But sometimes.

It was a few days after surgery and my team had finally removed my catheter. I was expected to pee a certain amount to signal my bladder was working. Initially, I thought nothing of this. However, as the day ticked on, the nurse came back in and casually mentioned catheterization if I couldn’t pass a certain amount of urine.

WHAT?? No.

That’s definitely going to hurt. I started drinking water and began to slowly realize that…my bladder was not working…I couldn’t really feel any sensation of having to pee. A lot was going on post surgery, so it took a while for this to dawn on me. As the hours wore on, I became increasingly anxious of having to have the catheter put back in. I know it might seem silly, but all these little things I viewed as set backs and it was hard not to spiral. I dedicated a lot of time sitting in that bathroom with various audios of rivers and streams playing. I willed it. I meditated it. I remember at one point David followed me into the bathroom and told me to calm down. I remember turning back around and exclaiming, “Don’t tell me to calm down, its not YOUR body!”.

At some point I realized my body was not doing this naturally and paged the nurse. An ultrasound was done on my bladder, which confirmed lots of pee. My bladder wasn’t working. The nurse indicated sometimes the bladder took longer to wake up from surgery and they would just catheterize me to give me some relief and give my bladder more time to wake up. Don’t worry, in the small time frame here I did lots of google searching. No message board was left untouched. The nurse asked if she could bring another female nurse in to help. Sure I thought, invite the whole floor please.

The nurses came back to the room and I entered full blown panic mode. It was going to hurt and I knew it. I knew it. I had my legs spread, my mother holding my hand on one side of me and my husband holding my hand on the other side of me.

“Do you mind if we tilt your legs up some? It will let us see what we’re doing better…”…..Sure I thought…perfect….my legs are now spread, tilted upwards somewhat with my mother holding my hand on one side and my husband on the other. As I prepare for mutilation, I suddenly hear they are commenting it’s working. The bladder is draining.

“Oh, I didn’t even feel anything,” I said relaxing my death grip.

“Well, then that means we did it right,” the nurse laughed back.

Of course I was embarrassed for making such a scene about it but the nurses were very kind and understood. Edit to add I always had good nurses. A lot of them were young and my age it seemed. I remember one writing me a special note on my board before she got off her shift when we didn’t see each other.

None of it was done gracefully or bravely. It was done messy through anxious tears and anger. Honestly, I sometimes still can’t even believe it happened to me. It’s been a lot to grapple with, the road taking that twist you never expect. I guess it’s the one thing we can come to expect. It will toughen you up for sure, but hopefully you can find some laughs along the way.

Much love.

Favorite Cleaner Hair Hacks!

In the spirit of sharing more clean hacks this year, I thought I’d share my favorite go-to hair products now! Cleaning up my products has been a journey and I’m certainly not perfect. I still use some that probably aren’t the cleanest but I’ve definitely cleaned up my hair act! I use products sparingly these days.

I dyed my hair for years going from blonde to black. Honestly, I probably should make a personal amends to my mothers bathroom cabinets for all the hair dye I inflicted upon them! Shortly before I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided I was over dying my hair.

It was so much effort, so much money and so much time when my time now is extremely limited after kids! I just couldn’t stand sitting in that chair! So. I chopped it all off! I chopped off all the dye left in my hair and started off with fresh virgin hair. I really do have fun with my hair and have embraced a lot of styles.

Here are my go-to’s in the hair department when it comes to cleaner products!

Primally Pure dry shampoo – clean, crisp and it works great! They have a version for dark & light hair. I guesstimate I wash my hair approximately once or twice a week. (Use code ‘wonderfully10’ to save 10% on your order!)

Less heat! I know we’ve all heard less heat is better but let me introduce you to The Sway. Yes, you need one now and if you have long hair, it is fabulous! I will add my hair is naturally on the thin and wavy side and does not typcially hold curl well. I have heard fabulous reviews on this working for thick hair too! I use this on both damp and dry hair. When I’m sleeping and I also wear this bad boy out because hello…it’s cute!

The sway in action

Beautycounter Shampoo and Conditioner – Ok I have to admit that hair is not my strong suit and I typically use just whatever cleaner drugstore shampoo I can find…typically Acure brand. Recently, Beautycounter had these full size on sale for $13 so you know I had to scoop them up! My hair has never been so soft! Honestly, I only wash my hair once to twice a week so it might not hurt to splurge a little more on my shampoo. The really fun thing about this is that Beautycounter has recently relaunched their entire body care line to include refillable and recyclable containers! They are aluminum which are easier to reycyle than regular plastic. The fillable part means you recycle your body container, keep the pump and reorder just a new can of product! Beauty should be good for you and the planet! You can check out the entire newly relaunched body line, including shampoo and conditioner, HERE!

I am not much for styling products at all, the only one I have reached for lately is the Moroccanoil Dry Texture Spray, this works amazing actually, I am going to upgrade to the full size for sure. It adds both texture and volume! Another great dry shampoo pick is this R+Co dry shampoo paste…if your hair is on the shorter side this is so great to add volume and texture! I use about a pea-sized amount and just rub into scalp.

What cleaner hair care products are you embracing these days??

That App Life

I know we all can end up with random apps on our phones we no longer use…right?… RIGHT?

I thought I’d list a few I actually use on a regular basis that I deem useful so here we go:

  • GetSorted – This is a great app to tidy up your photo library. I end up with thousands of photos on my phone so this app sets small goals for going through photos by date and month and deleting/saving what you want! It’s all about small goals and fun rewards along the way!

  • Rakuten – If you are spending money online and aren’t using this you are crazy! Especially around the holidays! You just pull up the app, see all the stores that offer cashback and then shop through that link. You can even link to your cards so it automatcailly credits you cash back when you shop in person. You can sign up HERE. It’s worth it! *Disclaimer that I do get some free cash if you sign up with my link, and so do YOU!

  • Dark Sky – I heard about this app from a podcast I listen to and have been using it since! This is apparently a super accurate weather app people in Hollywood use to track the weather for shooting movies (so they say). Anyways, its easy, it always pulls up to my city and shows an hourly breakdown of temp/rain chance so it’s convenient. Especailly in Florida where rain can come on quite quickly! Or when I spend two hours trying to decide if I should water my plants or not.

  • Dunkin DonutsDo not laugh! You need this if you’re a DD fan. There is one by my house and I have gotten quite a few free coffees earned by using this app! It’s super easy to order ahead and they often run deals for double points and other specials for app users only!

  • ABC Mouse – We subscribe to ABC Mouse and honestly, I do feel like it’s worth it. They have both preschool and kindergarten level for each of my kids. My 3yo doesn’t play it much, but my 6yo does! He enjoys the matching games, mazes, taking care of the pets etc. Worth It. He can’t really work a mouse but honestly…aren’t those probably going to be extinct by the time he grows up? Everything will be touch screen. He mostly plays this on the ipad and it’s way better than anything you’ll find on youtube kids!

What other apps are you liking these days? Hard to keep up with the constant new ones coming out. I’m always deleting unused apps from my phone! Time for a clean-up…