The Thought Detox

I had the great good fortune of being part of a group on Facebook where one of the members recently posted a challenge for the rest of us that I found not only highly inspirational but that actually works. I like the concept so much, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Here is the premise. Just about everyone has done or heard about a body detox – you know – where you either eliminate food completely or at the very least, sharply reduce your consumption while adding healing herbs, brews or foods.

For the 30 Day Negativity Cleanse the requirements are very simple. Every day for 30 days you take the time to write down one thing you are grateful for. As I write this, I’ve been doing it for about a week, and I’m already noticing what a difference taking time to be thankful can make.

Many of us face the challenges of overcoming negativity in our day-to-day lives. Some may find themselves in a work situation that isn’t ideal. Others may be in a relationship that fails to provide them with the love connection they would really like. And, for women who have had breast cancer, it’s often difficult to put the fear and negative inner chatter aside.

As with any detox, taking the time to concentrate on what’s healthy often provides significant benefits. When we add gratitude to our daily lives, it doesn’t take long for our minds to shift a bit to a place that is calmer and less focused on negativity. What I also love about this process is that it causes us to stop and count our blessings.

today I'm thankful forSo I’m going to pay it forward. What are you grateful or thankful for? Do you think you can come up with something every day for the next 30 days? What I discovered is that once I began listing what brings me happiness or peace of mind, I kept discovering more and more things I wanted to list.

And what I’ve also started to learn from this exercise is that when I focus on what’s good about my life, I actually don’t seem to even think about the negative. It loses its power.

So today what am I thankful for? I’m feeling tremendously blessed because in just a few days two of my sisters will be arriving to spend the holidays with me. What’s on your list?

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Love/Hate Pinktober

Oh how I have a love/hate relationship with October and the color pink. Most survivor sisters I know will tell you they hate October and they hate the color pink. I try keep a different mindset. Do I hate that companies are taking advantage of breast cancer awareness and making huge profits, while donating very little or none to the cause? Yes! But do I love using October to spread awareness and educate others? Absolutely!!

Instead of getting angry, I turn that anger into passion and I work hard to educate others so they know where their money is going. And I have to say; I have learned to wear my pink with pride. For me, I love October more than I hate it. Although it is exhausting, I seem to be so busy — I have had some amazing opportunities due to October being breast cancer awareness month:

I was asked to speak at my old high school — to talk with the football players, so they know why they are wearing the color pink. I must say, it is hard to see myself as a motivational speaker. One of my fears has always been public speaking. I struggle with my words and thoughts, so having the opportunity to face my fear, overcome it and be that role model for others is incredible.

I have had opportunities to be on fashion runways! This has given me a chance to show other survivors you can still be beautiful amidst the scars. Cancer takes so much from you. Among those many things is your confidence. It leaves you feeling empty and ugly. But these opportunities remind me that we are still beautiful. We are strong, beautiful warriors!

I have also been given the confidence to put my story out there. I never thought I was smart enough to actually write. I had no idea what I was capable of until I found myself battling cancer. I realize now I can do anything I put my mind to.

This October I was able to be a model for a local photographer – another opportunity to share my story. I was also a model for a local Houston artist who made cast molds out of survivor breasts and turned them into brilliant, beautiful works of art. She put these pieces in an exhibit to help the local M.D. Anderson. It was liberating! Taking something that was dark and personal to us. Turning it into a beautiful piece of art to share with others.

I was able to stand up at an open mic where they do poetry slams. What an amazing experience!! It was a night full of survivors facing fears and getting up in front of people to express their thoughts through poems. I wrote one for myself as a therapeutic outlet. But then, it turned out to be a piece dedicated to my sisters. I realized, not only did it help and inspire me, it inspired others.

eden, amoena ambassadorSuch amazing opportunities have come from my cancer and the months of October. I always say, as horrible as it was, I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. But it has shaped and molded me into the woman I am today. Someone I never thought I could be. I am a brave and strong warrior and my outlook on life is so amazing now.

I have wonderful opportunities like being an ambassador for Amoena. These opportunities are life changing! How grateful I am to Amoena for such an incredible opportunity to feel beautiful again and to allow us to share our stories and meet amazing people along the way! So, for these wonderful blessings I will embrace October and use it as an educating tool and I will continue to wear my pink with pride.

I would like to leave the poem I wrote for whomever may be reading this. You don’t have to have had cancer to benefit from these words. Whatever your struggles may be – our self worth is so important. I love having opportunities like this to share my story, to teach others what I continue to teach myself. We constantly tell others how beautiful and talented they are. All too often, we forget that we too have those same qualities. We need to start seeing ourselves through others’ eyes and walk with our heads held high with confidence and strength!

Vintage Valor

Everything I knew as a woman was stripped away from me.
Just a dark, empty vessel of what I used to be.
With ugly scars and awkward shapes, how could this be?
But in the midst of what I thought was a tragedy….
I was blind and now I see.
A tarnished vintage piece with a human face;
Tell a story of beauty and grace.
When I look in the mirror now… this is my place!
I am not a disgrace or a charity case. I will embrace!!
What I teach myself. I will teach you.
You are an abstract piece with golden hue.
You will one day see what I see in you.
So spread your beautiful wings and fly.
Vintage Valor with your head held high.

Posted in Breast Cancer Advocacy, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Survivors, Inspiration, My Story, Young Survivors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuffing My Feelings

I had someone at work recently that made me mad. I’m generally a pretty easy going person, so it usually takes a lot to upset me. Since my bouts with breast cancer, and as I’ve aged, I’ve tried very hard to see what the lesson is for me in these sorts of situations. What I am beginning to learn is that I tend to get angry when I feel slighted or when a situation feels unfair.

I guess I should rephrase that. I think I’ve known this all along, it’s just that I’m at a point in my life where I want to avoid getting angry if at all possible, so examining the root causes feels like a good place to begin.

I don’t know where my sense of fair play originated, but it has been a strong part of my makeup for as long as I can remember. Rightfully or wrongfully so, if I feel someone has treated me or anyone I care about in a way that is unfair or thoughtless, my feathers get ruffled.

This most recent incident involved having my feelings hurt – plain and simple. A co-worker I value as a friend outside of work behaved in a very passive aggressive way when I asked for her assistance. I’m not that high on the food chain in my day-to-day situation, but she is even further down line, so whenever I have a task that includes stuffing envelopes and mailing something out, when my boss notices me doing the work myself, he often says I should ask her to do it.

Up until her arrival, the stuffing and mailing was always handled by the person in her position. I learned early on, however, that she really doesn’t enjoy the process, so for several years, I’ve taken the duty back and done it myself. I did this willingly and without malice, I might add. I just always feel badly asking someone else to perform a task I dislike!

Anyway, this week because I am pressed for time since I’m trying to prepare for a vacation (why does that seem to mean more work, not less?) I told her I was going to be bringing the letters and envelopes down to her desk so she could complete the task and get everything mailed off in my absence.

Her response is still making steam come out of my ears. She gave a big sigh and said loudly enough so anyone within earshot could hear, “Your timing is always great, as usual. We’re trying to get ready for the Thanksgiving potluck, so I’m really busy.”

I’m not giving the details to prove how wronged I was. I’m providing this backstory because what ended up happening was I felt like I was going to cry and then I quickly said “Never mind, I’ll do it myself!” Which I did.

Today, nearly 24 hours since this occurred, I’m still fuming and feeling slighted. I want to tell her she was unkind. I want to remind her that this is something my boss thinks she should be doing anyway. I want to figure out how to resolve this so it doesn’t get blown out of proportion, but so she understands how I feel. Or does that really matter?

And that’s why I’m writing this blog post at the moment. How do you deal with this sort of issue? Am I wrong to feel she behaved badly? Am I overreacting? Have you found yourself in a similar situation and figured out how to feel better and move on?

I’m still struggling with why I need closure on this. I think part of me feels like she’s figured me out and knows if she barks I’ll tuck my tail between my legs and do the job myself. Part of me feels like I need to tell her how she made me feel – but I don’t want this to escalate. And part of me is hurt because this is not how I would treat a friend, so I’m having to examine whether we truly are friends at all.

I’m working hard on letting go of negative emotions because I truly want to live a healthy life and be a better person – so I’m hoping some of you will provide feedback that helps me to accomplish this.

Since breast cancer, how do YOU handle anger, hurt feelings, etc.? I feel certain someone will provide me with the key!

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Cup 1/2 Empty or 1/2 Full? Wrong Question.

gingerIt’s been 8 years since I first heard the words, ‘You have breast cancer’. As I sat pondering my life experiences since then and the new understandings I’ve been given, I realized that there were several statements made to me that I never addressed in full truth and authenticity.

I remember starting into the eyes of my newborn son as pain from the recent mastectomy shot through my chest. My heart was filled with guilt as I reflected on how poorly I was meeting my duties as a mother.

I had just delivered my baby after hearing only four months earlier that breast cancer had infected my body. For a 31-year old fitness instructor, breast cancer was the last thing on my radar – yet there it was.

My two older children sat nearby as a well-meaning family member visited. As I attempted to share some of the internal frustrations I was experiencing regarding the recent diagnosis, the mastectomy and my fears of facing chemotherapy, my guest made the statement:

“Well Ginger, I guess you’re just going to have to decide if your cup is half full or half empty. ”

My mind raced with a million thoughts (not all of them pleasant) as she continued her sermon on how things could be worse and I just needed to lift my chin and muddle through.

I sat there listening; nodding in agreement. Unable to say the words that were spinning in my head as I didn’t want to offend. Yet, in all truth, I was offended.

I’m confident that I’m not the only one who has heard the half full-half empty statement and so for the mere pleasure of being able to fully express myself now that I’m eight years out from that day, I’d like to say this:

glass of waterIt’s not about whether your cup is half full or half empty.

It’s about what is in your cup.

I’m sure there are many philosophers out there who may have deeper insights into life than I do as a 39-year-old. But from the personal experiences I’ve had in overcoming physical, emotional and sexual abuse, a cancer diagnosis, multiple surgeries and chemotherapy – here’s what I have to say.

If your cup is full of sludge – it doesn’t matter the quantity – you’re not going to want to drink it.

It’s been my experience that every person is dealing with some kind of personal battle – whether we can visibly see their suffering or not.

The cancer experience took both of my breasts, an ovary, and various other parts of my body leaving multiple scars as proof of the battle wounds. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to wear Amoena products to help restore my physical shape, but what no one could see was the gaping, emotional wounds inside me that were festering, infected and causing deep suffering.

It will surprise many to learn that while I was creating the Happy Chemo! Network and receiving praise for having my picture go global on the back of the Cheerios box, I was in the most emotional pain of my life. I was even suicidal at one point due to the estrogen suppressing medicine that I was told had to be taken.

People who are suffering often wear masks.

“I’m fine” becomes the Trojan Horse of our existence.

I have learned from personal experience that emotional wounds tend to fester long after the physical scars have healed.

This understanding brings with it a greater compassion for the suffering of others. Instead of telling people to just be positive, look on the bright side and any other social cliché that essentially comes across as ‘it sucks to be you,’ I have learned to hold my tongue until I have a deeper understanding of what’s in their cup.

Only then can we know what needs to happen to assist them in dumping it out, sterilizing the cup and filling it with clean and Living Water.

To all those out there who are ‘fine,’ please know that you have our support, encouragement and understanding. That’s the true role of someone who’s experienced cancer in the past – to comfort those who are now traveling the same path.

I am so grateful to my fellow Mission:Strength Ambassadors and to the Amoena Family for their desire to bring comfort and encouragement to those facing breast cancer. The cup may be bitter now – but stick around – we’ll be sharing more ways to dump it out and clean it up.

Lots of Love!


Posted in Breast Cancer Recovery, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Lifestyle, My Story, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Water We Waiting For?

sun and cloudsOkay, I just have to get something off my chest (and this from a woman who has no breasts!) Out here in sunny California, it’s … well … it’s sunny. It was sunny last year. It was sunny earlier this year. It was sunny last month. It’s sunny right now. I’m pretty sure you can see the pattern.

I’ve lived in California for the majority of my adult life, so I know a thing or two about dry, but if there is something dryer than dry, this is it. In fact, it’s so dry, the sand is complaining.

I’m making light of this, but I’m here to tell you when it doesn’t rain for months on end, you can start to go a little crazy. As I write this, I can’t honestly say when we last had any measurable rainfall here, but I do remember that when I heard it on the roof, I was transfixed. I hadn’t realized just how soothing the sound of rain can be at night when you are going to sleep.

So here I am complaining about being parched, and just a state or so over, they are having floods – or tornados – or hurricanes – or something equally unwanted and abnormal.

As if having strange weather hasn’t been on everyone’s radar long enough, now we apparently have Enteroviruses and Ebola thrown into the mix. I know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it seems to me we live in a world so fraught with possible catastrophes, we may have to simply dedicate a day to each and, well, call it a day!

Heck, I thought I had a lot on my plate just worrying about breast cancer! Now, I’m living in a place and time where I may be forced to see the wisdom in my mother’s use of spit on a Kleenex to wipe smudges off my face. (If your mother did not do this, please don’t tell me, because when I complained my mother always said it was what mothers do!)

And speaking of mothers, I’m inclined to think that Mother Nature has a plan. I’m not quite sure what it is since she doesn’t ask for my input, but I am pretty sure if we don’t get in the way, she’ll create the necessary balance.

In the meantime, out here in sunny California I’m doing my best to remember to conserve water wherever and whenever possible. I’m also determined not to let today’s headlines add more fear to my life since breast cancer has already tried its best to make sure I sleep with one eye open.

As a sun worshiper, I’m beginning to think I just may have to learn how to do a rain dance, and if you’ve ever seen me dance, you know it won’t be pretty.

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Blessings in Disguise

eden modeling for amoena in a red swimsuitIt is so easy to dwell on what cancer has taken from me. But I work hard to see the blessings that have come from it. And they continue to pour down like rain. Amoena is one of those blessings that have opened doors for even more blessings. Amoena allowed me to do what most girls only dream of. I was a real model in a magazine and it was for an amazing cause true to my heart! That gave me the courage to walk a runway in front of strangers!

A woman with breast cancer is stripped down of everything as a woman. Physically, mentally and emotionally. You feel ugly inside and out. Amoena reminded us that we are still beautiful! Even with our scars! So when I was asked to be a model in this amazing fundraiser called Art Bra Austin, I didn’t even hesitate! I said sign me up! I had the confidence I thought I would never have. Art Bra Austin is such an amazing gala where breast cancer survivors get to model these amazing bras that local artists have made so that we can auction them off and raise money for the Breast Cancer Resource Center here in Austin.

There truly are no words to describe the feeling you have on that runway. When you have been sick, wondering if you will survive, whether you are still battling or in remission… on that stage you are invincible! Strong, fierce, courageous! For that moment you almost forget your reality. Not only are you reminding yourself what you are worth, but you are giving other women the courage to believe in themselves and remember how beautiful and amazing they are! I stood on that stage next to women who were recovering from their chemo from the day before or just days out from surgery. Beautiful warriors we are! How blessed I am to stand alongside these women!

Living to tell my story so that I can make a difference! It just doesn’t get any better then that!!

Posted in Amoena Life magazine, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Survivors, Lifestyle, My Story, Positive Thinking, Support Groups, Young Survivors | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Equation for a Good Night’s Rest

No doubt about it, sleep is important. Getting a good night’s rest became even more important to me after my cancer diagnosis. Yes, it was important because my body was fatigued and tired more often than not. But, as I began to enter ‘recovery’ and my ‘new normal’, I needed rest to ensure that I would have enough energy to realize my biggest goal and dream of 2014 — to complete a triathlon!

I think there are three essential elements to a good night’s sleep.
(1) Cozy Pj’s
(2) Perfect pillow
(3) Silky sheets

woman in pajamas

Carletta at home, in Amoena’s Daydream pajama set in Violet.

I spent 10 weeks this year training for a triathlon. It required many early AM workouts, so I couldn’t afford to not have a good night’s rest. Amoena’s Daydream pajamas, which I received as an Amoena Ambassador, are phenomenal. They are soft and comfy. Just what the doctor ordered for blissful night of rest. In addition to the soft, coziness of the pajamas, they are also very stylish. I love the fact that I can lounge in my PJs or even take a walk to my mailbox (there’s a bra built-in!). That’s what having a pair of stylish pj’s affords me. Whoever says that style and comfort can’t exist together has never owned Amoena’s nightwear!

I have always been a woman who loves the perfect pillow. However, after my mastectomy, the pillows that I once deemed perfect were not doing the job. With a new fervor, I went into a new perfect pillow search because I believe wholeheartedly it must exist for good rest. After a couple of duds, I finally found two pillows that fit the bill — the bamboo pillow and chill pillow. I switch between the two during the night. The chill pillow is perfect when hot flashes hit, while the bamboo pillow is soft yet firm. Sliding into silky sheets in my cozy pj’s with my perfect pillows is a setup for just about the best rest ever!

With all three of my critical needs in place for a good night’s rest, I was well rested for early morning workouts. You might have heard, I managed to complete my goal and cross the triathlon finish. (Yay!!) Training is over for now. But, the need for a great night’s sleep is ongoing. We must never underestimate a good night’s rest. It starts with a good pair of pajamas! You won’t be disappointed in Amoena’s Home collection, I can vouch for that.

Happy sleeping!

Signed, the well rested one, Carletta 😉

Posted in Amoena Fashion, Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Survivors, Healthy Living, Mastectomy Products, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Photo Contest! #missionstrength

breast cancer survivorsA lot of companies and media outlets are about to start focusing on breast cancer survivors and their inspiring stories. Amoena has been focused on you for nearly 40 years, and we want to share your stories of strength all year.

This week, our new Amoena Life magazine is out — we hope you have received yours in the mail — and to celebrate, we’re having a photo contest. Since the magazine is also the debut of our Mission Strength Amoena Ambassadors, Ginger, Eden, and Carletta, we’re going to hashtag the contest in their honor!

Post a photo of you with your copy of Amoena Life magazine, and the hashtag #missionstrength — or your copy of the newest Breast Cancer Wellness magazine, which includes an Amoena mini-mag! — and we’ll put you in this week’s prize drawing. The pics can be posted anywhere —  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or you can email us! This week’s contest will run from today, Monday, 9/8 through Friday, 9/12. Have fun!

See the full contest rules here.


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Editor’s note: Contributor Marcia Butler shares an illuminating perspective in this personal essay, connecting us in another way as we remember September 11, 2001.


One day in the early 1970s, a friend and I played hooky from college classes and on a lark, went down to the vast construction site where the Twin Towers were being erected. Somehow we were able to slip into an elevator in the South Tower, punch a very high number and ride up to one of the top floors still under construction. A few workmen were milling about, but no one stopped us or paid any attention to our wide-eyed shenanigans. The site was surprisingly deserted, at least on the floor we happened upon.

Walking out into the yet-to-be-constructed offices, we felt simultaneously inside and outside. The wind was whipping through the open space, because the windows, all stacked up against those now famous thick interior columns, had not yet been installed. Curious and brave, we walked towards those huge gaping cavities, and for a moment we really did feel on top of the world. Hand in hand, we ventured right to the brim, without fear or hard hats. We felt giddy, as the building swayed, and we gripped each other more tightly.

The Trade Towers had been controversial, considered potential eyesores in the Wall Street area. No one wanted the towers to be built, just as years later, no one wanted the Time Warner towers to be built at Columbus Circle. But these behemoths ultimately do get built, and eventually everyone gets used to them. We forget about the resistance and drama surrounding new construction in our city and the worries of how it will impact our beloved skyline, which is always changing like cumulus clouds. The New York City skyline is imbedded in our consciousness and yet, it slowly undulates with the gradual and inevitable new construction that is the hallmark of progress.

Through the years, I began to feel a crazy personal ownership of the towers, remembering them as the enormous lumbering babies I met when I snuck into that elevator and walked to the very hilt, looking out onto my vast city. I saw a view that few had yet seen. That very special bird’s eye view: surely higher than any other building at the tip of Lower Manhattan, and even in the whole city. That view was just for my friend, the construction guys and me. As we looked out of the wide-open holes in the walls, we were inured to the height and the expanse and the potential danger of the tower’s verticality. Out and about in the city, I found myself looking southward often, and feeling comforted; there they were, just as they should be, a solid visual homing beacon. Those Twin Towers were my towers. I loved them so. They were just there, being their looming selves: over the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, dwarfing those eschewed edifices of the past by dozens of floors.

On the day they fell, imploding a bit too perfectly into themselves, I hunkered down in front of the tube, feeling ghoulish, and watched the horror unfolding less than a mile away from my house in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens. And as the wind shifted into the evening, my house began to fill with the smell of smoke and perhaps minute particles of the detritus of God knows what. I went to bed that night with the windows closed up, trying to ward off that odor of death and pulverized computers, papers and ephemera of life that made up the Trade Towers and everything trapped inside. The very concrete that I may have stepped on as I emerged from the elevator that day over 40 years ago, just might have been seeping into my house in Queens, over the East River on the night of 9/11/01. As I tried to sleep that night, I inhaled my baby towers; an odor that I imagined contained my own young and ancient footsteps.

But on 9/11/01, what was really on my mind was the appointment scheduled at my radiologist’s office for 9/12/01, at 9:00 am. As the day of the 11th plodded on, with the tragedy unfolding literally minute by minute, a grim and very selfish thought began to surface at the edge of my chemo-brain. I was recovering from a grueling year of cancer treatment: post surgery; post chemo; post radiation. I had just begun running again. My skull was sprouting what would become a fantastic plume of gray hair. And I was scheduled to have my brand new baseline x-rays, which would tell the new story of my now non-cancerous breasts. What if my appointment was cancelled due to the Twin Towers collapsing?

Of course, no one was in the doctor’s office to answer my repeated calls. The phone service all over New York City was sketchy at best. I felt sheepish and embarrassed to even bother with this silly detail in my small life. My gigantic baby towers were gone and my breasts needed to be photographed. The Towers and The Breasts: like the title of a bad soap opera, just cancelled by the networks.

The morning of the 12th at 6:30 am, the call came from my doctor; they would see a few patients who needed crucial scans and I was one. “Come on in, if you can.”

Walking to the subway, I sensed a tentative calm in the air, not yet to be trusted. The streets and stores were empty, save for a few stalwart Korean delis. Most people had undoubtedly been glued to the TV all night and were still watching, or were drifting off to sleep into an unwanted day off. Miraculously, the 7 trains were running and I boarded the Manhattan-bound subway with a few others, our eyes meeting, but mostly behaving as if we were going into work as usual.

I sat on the side of the train that faced north. As the elevated subway went into its big turn just after the Queensboro Plaza station, it suddenly occurred to me to turn around and look south. The gesture was an instinct. My southward view had just cleared the Citigroup Building. With this building in the foreground, the Twin Towers would have emerged. But they were gone. What appeared in their stead was the most beautifully sculpted double billow of thick smoke imaginable. They were solidly planted where the towers had been, almost as if they were new structures, and not going anywhere. Casper-like billows: ghostly. Monumental bulbous balloons of grey steely smoke, the wind unable to dissipate their sheer density. The towers had been rearranged into a softer effect; not the huge phallic-like structures that everyone griped about in the ’70s when I was a college student. No, these might be kind and gentle and forgiving towers, because they were now not only made of concrete and steel, but also of lives lost. Mixed up in the chaos of these gentle smoke stacks were countless bodies, pulverized into a massive, vertical sandy compost heap. Is that what I inhaled the night before? This thought roiled in my guts and I bent down to retch onto the floor of the train. My fellow commuters looked away.

The radiologist’s office was on Madison Avenue, a building of solid steel, concrete, granite and glass. The elevator let me out into an intact hallway. Doors to the offices were wide open; a few bald comrades sat, waiting. Angels disguised as doctors in white coats had flocked to this solid building to quell my fears and complete my treatment, taking the pictures that would become my breast’s new baby pictures, to gaze at and refer to in subsequent years. 9/12/01 was the end of my cancer journey. On that day, I began my final stage of healing. The killing of my cancer was complete, and my beloved baby Twin Towers had died too.


9/11 National Memorial & Museum, New York.

Marcia ButlerCreativity has been the driving force in Marcia Butler’s life. For 25 years she performed throughout the world as a professional oboist. She was hailed by the New York Times as “a first rate artist” and performed with such luminaries as pianist Andre Watts and jazz great Keith Jarrett. In 2002 Marcia switched careers and began her interior design firm, Marcia Butler Interior Design. The personal essay “9.12.01” is part of a memoir Marcia is currently writing, whose working title is My Isolde. She lives in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens.

Posted in Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Survivors, My Story | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Everything is Going Swimmingly

swimming poolHere is something to remember: Things change. Perhaps I don’t have to remind anyone reading this blog that change is a part of being alive, but every now and then, I have to remind myself.

For the past several years, walking has been my place of reprieve, renewal and reflection. Regardless of where I might find myself physically, I knew that at the beginning or end of any day, all I had to do was lace up my shoes and walk out the door to find the peace of mind and calm that so often elude me during my workday.

After nine weeks of recovery from my mastectomy I went back to work. And as much as I had agonized over jumping back into the reality of a 9-to-5 life, it actually felt really good. I hate to say it, but left to my own devices, I have a propensity for just sort of lazing around. My friends and family assured me this was necessary for me to heal – but there was a part of me that felt like my inactivity had more to do with lethargy and depression than necessity.

I thought the best way to jump back into my routine was to do just that – start where I’d left off. I began getting up every morning at 5:45 and taking Lulu for a walk. Granted, we weren’t walking quite as fast as before, but we were walking. And then, somehow, my left calf muscle decided to begin cramping so badly I would have to hobble home after walking just a few steps.

I was devastated. I still can’t do the rope yoga I loved so much prior to surgery, although I think I’m pretty close to being fit enough to start again. I understood this, because the yoga puts demands on my body where I’d had my surgery. But walking – walking – I had taken that for granted. I mean, after all, I see people much older than me briskly putting one foot in front of the other all the time.

For the first time since my surgery I felt truly despondent. It’s always been a struggle for me keeping my weight within a healthy range. Now what was I going to do? I was frantic not to allow my inactivity to cause me to pack on the pounds again.

I realized that sitting all day is probably causing muscles that have not been used for several weeks to tighten even more, so I’m working on stretching and releasing. But this is a slow process and I’m really feeling antsy.

In the midst of all of this, I remembered that we have a pool here in our community that is available for my use every day of the week. Granted, anything requiring a swimsuit isn’t at the top of my list, but seriously, at some point I truly do need to get over myself, don’t I? And what better way to reintroduce my poor muscles to exercise that isn’t too taxing?

And so earlier this week, I hobbled my way to the pool and dove in. I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt, both mentally and physically. I hadn’t even thought about how great moving my body through water was going to feel – and how relatively effortless it would be compared to my efforts on land.

I’m ashamed and amazed that it took something so drastic to remind me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to look around for the solutions. I’ve never been a great swimmer, so I’m thinking this just may be a possible way to remedy that. You know, the old “when the student is ready, the teacher will come” sort of approach.

Of course, I’m anxious to be able to start walking again – and I can’t wait to get back to my yoga as well. But for today, I’m going to remember to be grateful for what I can do (and for what I have)! And perhaps on an even loftier level, I’m going to remember not to take even the simplest things for granted.

Editor’s note: Amoena’s 2014 swimwear is in stores now! Take a look at all the colorful, supportive styles available, all pocketed and tailored just for you.

Posted in Blog Stuff, Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Survivors, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment