Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Giving Young Adult Cancer the Bird

In case you haven't picked it up already, I'm not really a big fan of cancer, and don't really have any problem with being angry at it, or being disgruntled, or being a smart ass when it comes to dealing with it. Its like all the rebelling I didn't do as a teenager was really just waiting for the opportunity to rage against the cancer machine, or something like that. (Okay, if you met me, you'd probably find me to be one of the most passive and mellow people ever, unless I'm writing... I'm even really quiet and sort of shy). But all that is besides the point; i[2]y has just came out with a new a new campaign that's all about giving young adult cancer the bird.

Basically, they are selling traditional advocacy wristbands at Spencers, and on facebook they are trying to get 10,000,000 million strong to give young adult cancer the bird. They are also collecting pictures of people giving cancer the bird.

This kind of leads into a look into two seized upon methods of advocacy that are pretty popular: facebook pages and wrist bands.

Now, a lot of people are like oh whats the point. I mean, yeah the bracelets do make some money; but really whats the purpose of the group, not like they are out doing a cancer walk or anything like that, right? But it is like that. Even if people just sign up to have their name on something. Even if you don't go out and buy a bracelet. I like it b/c well... I'm angry about having cancer. I'm not a super rebel, but its kind of fun, kind of relieving to be able to just publically announce how you feel. I also think that its something that's just extreme enough in title, that people will click and read what the group is about.

70,000 15-39 year olds. 30 years w/out a change in cancer rate. Yeah, we have damn good reason to be pissed off.

So do names on a list, just general members of a group make a difference? I think it depends. It makes a difference to me when I see the group, I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who hate cancer, and it has 1,160,649 members... I mean how cool is that... And it prompts conversation and networking. Whatever the effect, I don't think its hurting things.

As for bracelets... I'll be the first to say that I think wrist bands are getting a little out of hand... but I will also say, that as someone with specific interests in certain limited causes, I love having a bracelet, and having people ask me about it, and doing a little more educating. So it's a double edged sword there. I also find that few things are more attractive than when you see a guy sporting his little yellow livestrong bracelet. I don't know. I find it hot. It makes me want to actually talk to that person.

I kind of like this. I think each week I'll try to write about some sort of cancer advocacy or awareness thing that is going on. Let me know if you have any suggestions of things going on. And pass this on!!

On a random side note, I'm doing a lot better today, was even able to actually drive. I like seeing straight and getting my brain to function.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Car accident and set-backs

While trying to get some control over my life, I go through daily ups and downs. One minute i'm super optimistic...the next I'm debbie downer. But it generally seems at the end of the day, or at least by the end of the week I'm making it a little bit further ahead. I referred to this in a comment I made on another blog as taking giant babysteps. But right now, I feel like I am on the cusp of plummeting straight down to where I was the lowest.

ON Friday night, right after I made my last post on here, I was driving home from the library when I got into a car accident. Nothing too serisous. I had slammed my breaks in time to miss a guy who decided to bisect 4 lanes of oncomming traffic, only to be hit from behind by an SUV. (I drive a honda civic... it's like a tank). for the first two minutes i was ok... then i started shaking and then i started crying. It was just so frustrating to know in the back of my mind that even though I knew I had done everything right, I lost control over yet another situation. And then I couldn't function. LIke my brain was going full force, I could see what the cops needed to do, I understood what was goin on, I managed to call my parents, as I was less than a mile from home. My lawyer side kicked in and I could map out in my mind who needed tickets, and what they could do for indemnity. But my mouth didn't move. I just let the officers do their thing, and I only said a handful of things. I fetl very childlike.

I didn't go to the hospital until the next day. By then I was dizzy, disoriented, pain in the neck. And then suddenly I couldn't spell my mom's last name. And thats about when I became scared. They said I had a cervical sprain and probably a mild concussion.

I have never had a situation where I felt more helpless. With cancer, my parents are sort of useless. I remember after the first surgery, I was the only person able to pay attention to the doctor, remember all the instructions, think clearly and know what I needed to do. I tried to do that with the accident. Just a stupid fender bender. And failed. I couldn't process things people were saying to me. I couldn't find words I was looking for on a page. Trying to tell my insurance company what was happening nearly sent me into tears b/c I couldn't get things from my brain to my mouth.

I broke my diet. And the first thing my step-dad did was yell at me, told me I was falling into my mother's trap. And I just wanted to yell... FUCKING CONCUSSION GIVE ME A LITTLE FUCKING SLACK. I was trying to replace food w/ exercise as my comfort tool... that doesn't happen when your off balanced, and your neck isn'texactly moving. I don't understand why people in my family never take me seriously when I say something is wrong. it took a doctor saying i had a concussion for them to get that maybe they should have givine me a hand the night before w/ basic things, like carrying my laptop out of the car.

I think this is the biggest reason I've turned to support from strangers. They get wrong what bothers me the most. When I need help, and what I need help with. Today, its not the physical pain thats the worse, its the emotional stuff. its wondering how long till I'm able to actually understand what I'm reading again. When I'll stop feeling dizzy. When I can get back into my fitness routine. When I can stop worrying that I might have more than a mild concussion. When I'm upright, I'm still getting dizzy. I don't do well w/ pain meds, so I spent yesterday trying to figure out if I was queasy from vicadin or nauceous from head injury so I need to go get an MRI.

And then theres the big question, how much of this is worth it? I'm most frustrated b/c I was trying so hard to get on track. Make myself better. If I hadn't been trying so hard, this wouldn't suck as bad as it does. It wouldn't be something screwing up my life and plans... it would just be another hickup to deal with. Normally it's the cancer that takes that role, has the ability to fuck up all my grand schemes.

So yeah, I'm feeling this as a set-back. Yet another debilitating incident in my life that I have no control over. And I feel helpless, and hopeless, over something that wasn't stupidly huge, but enough for lasting impact... again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fitness Log#2

So its been a week since the first log, so I figured its a good time to update on how things are going.

The personal part:
My weight is still about the same. But I'm toning up all around. Oddly enough, where i've noticeably dropped weight (besides the extra chin i was sporting for about 3 weeks around graduation, thank goodness that's gone), but its my back. It's a weird thing to notice; I look in the mirror, poking at all my pudgy bits, then I turn profile side, and there it is, my back, getting some definition, and sort of melting... it looks sort of unbalanced to have a nice in shape back and then flabbiess in the front. But it's progress.

My trainer quit yesterday, which sucks, as it means I'm switching trainers, and most likely plans, since everyone does things differently. Oh well, I think the guy I'm switching to is going to work me a lot harder, which, after a month, I think I'm ready for.

The more post like part:

I don't know about you all, but after doing the low iodine diet, there was no way in hell you could get me to try to manage how I ate. I had super rebound. I never wanted to weigh meat, or subsist mainly off of fruit and veggies ever again. This has been a HUGE block for me. I mean, seriously... look at the title of the blog! Dieting is associated in my mind w/ being sick, hypo-hell, and radiation.

And a normal diet, looks remarkably like the LID. I suddenly find myself back to measuring out meat (3.5 oz for lunch, and again for dinner). Weighing vegetables; but at least I can eat bread and rice and everything. And I feel like I'm always eating. Every 3-4 hours. Never be hungry. Right now I'm doing between 1200-1500 calories a day, equal protein and carbs (156g) and 28g of fat. Some days its easy. Some days I forget my protein shakes, and hit the vending machine. But overall, I'm feeling good. And, unlike LID, I'm not gaining weight despite the constant monitoring. I hated that. I hated eating 0 carbs or junk food, only to gain weight.

So yeah, that has been my preconceived hindrances to dieting. And I'm not gonna lie. There are days where this diet feels a lot like the LID. Days when you are just hungry. The difference being, cheating at this diet isn't going to screw up your scans or RAI absorption, it just weights on your conscience (I had a bag of salt and vinegar chips tonight b/c I was running late and didn't grab protein stuff... so stupid).

I do wonder what will happen when I decide I'm done. I mean, I can't eat like this forever, can I? Never eat a real dinner or pasta again? We won't even talk about how long its been since I had pizza. And frankly, when I am done, I may never eat eggs or chicken again. Totally serious. (both super high in protein, w/ little to no fat). So, then will I have weight loss diet rebound similar to LID rebound? Wow... that's actually something interesting to think about, and ask my trainer how to deal with it. I know what happens to me, now I need to figure out a way to over come that. And I'm just rambling on to myself now.

So, has the LID effected how you guys diet? What about nonthyca people out there who do other types of diets and whatnot for treatment?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Post-Interview debriefing

I wasn't going to post again, but I had to.

The interview was fantastic, really,... and all I want to do is go home, curl up in a ball, and cry.

How f*kd up is that?

There was a panel of 8 people. It was kind of like a Chinese fire drill meets Monty Python's Spanish inquisition. They questioned my travels, why I was interested in defense work, etc. Poked fun at me for knowing the cops in the city. Sold me on how awesome working there would be, and how great of an experience it is. Then as I left the berated me with information and tips for passing the Bar. I don't remember the last time I slipped so easily into stride w/ a group of people. But they are basically all my friends transposed into new bodies. People interested in public interest work aren't your usual lawyers. They were all in late 20's early 30's (more or less). I was comfortable, and could see being happy, though poor, there.

So, why am I sitting in a library choking back the urge to cry?

First thought, what if I don't get the job? That would suck. I almost didn't want to like the interview so that if I didn't get the job I wouldn't be disappointed.

Second thought, if I got it, would I be settling? Its a safe job. Near home, could commute if I really wanted to save some cash. Its a very relaxed job (sort of)... would I get too comfortable doing something that comes easy to me? Is the safe job the way to go? Safe, reasonable, prudent, practical... always the way I deal with things.

Am I giving up on an international job search? Is practicality winning out?

What is it that I even want anymore? When did I stop aiming for my dreams, and instead started looking for things that were safe and practical?

I don't know.

The Cancer Sniffer

Not a big post today, but rather something I ran across, and thought I would share:

Cancer Sniffer

This just links to an article about the basics, but it gets the idea across.

Basically a chemical nose can smell cancer cells, and can log the markers for later reference. Does this mean an eventual end to biopsies??? Bloodwork??? How awesome would that be?!?!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strategizing for a job interview when you have cancer

I'm taking a mini-break from my endless bar prep, to stress for tomorrow's upcoming event. A job interview.

I feel like this is one of the biggest areas where young adult cancer survivors are more or less totally screwed. My doctor never gave me any advice or pamphlets on how to handle getting your first real job. There are discrimination laws and things, but really, from a practical standpoint how much do they really help?

From a rational employer's perspective, I wouldn't want to hire someone with cancer. Especially someone still getting treatments, or with positive cancer markers. I wouldn't want an employee who needed to take off every few months for tests; who has a consistent history of having to have surgeries and radiation. They may be great candidates, but really... why would I want to hire someone like that? And even more so, why hire someone like that who is just starting out? Who has no real experience? I mean, back in the day people w/ disabilities did great things all the time, in today's world, do you really think FDR in his wheelchair could be president, or Churchill and his alcoholism?

So this is the laundry list of things I've replayed a dozen or so million times in my head when it comes to interviews.

1. Do I hide the fact I have cancer, simply neglect to point it out, or sort of throw it right up front in the lime light?

I throw it right on my resume. Granted its at the bottom, and it's subtle, but I write on there that I am a member of Thyca: the Thyroid Cancer Survivor Association. I do this for a handful of reasons, but mainly b/c I've decided, if an employer looks at that and decides not to hire me, well then I don't really want to work for them anyways. For the others, I look to use it as a talking point in interviews. Let me tell you about how I've been fighting cancer while at the same time completing both law and grad school at the same time.

I've found, a lot more people are touched by thyroid cancer than you would think. Or it can be a way to relate to people. If I can turn it into a strength and not a weakness.

2. I can't hide my scar

I have about a 6 inch scare that runs across the center of my neck. Most people don't notice b/c its so big. I find interviewers are judging you in every way, especially how you look and present yourself. I've had one person look at my resume and then tell me they see my scar. It threw me off, and it sort of shook me up. I think I can deal with that now. Human curiosity looks for these things.

3. I have gaps and hiccups in my resume

For all of the awesome things that I have done while dealing with cancer, the unfortunate fact is, being sick has had it's costs as far as my professional life goes. 1st thing that a prospective employer will notice is that my GPA is low. My first year of law school, I was in and out of testing, had 2 surgeries, recurrance, a paralyzed vocal cord, and started hypo hell during finals. If i could have, I would have taken the year off. I get so angry at myself when I blame cancer for my grades; but since first year i believe i've pulled a 3.7 GPA between the two schools. So about a 3.5, 3.6 in law school. I have no idea how to tell that to someone. I did once, during an interview for a research assistant position, but I was comfortable with him, and everyone in law school talks. But he asked me how on earth I could get a 2.4 one year and then the next semester a 3.9.

2nd thing they notice, is that on my list of activities, I was never on a legal journal. In case you haven't noticed already, I like to write. I'm confident enough to say that I'm pretty good at it. And I love doing research. If you don't make it onto a journal your first year via your grades, then you are able to write-on at the end of each year. Well... first year=neck dissection, second= low iodine diet/radiation, third= dossimetry. This is the first spring where I didn't go into finals either going hypo, or pumped full of thyrogen. So, sitting and writing under those conditions. I could have done it. Maybe I was just lazy. At least thats how it looks on a resume.

3rd thing they notice is that I didn't work the summer after my first year. Again, neck dissection and radiation. I was out. I don't remember that summer. It still totally freaks me out.

And 4th, I didn't work at a firm. I chose far more awesome, less practical jobs. And I went where they offered me money too. I worked in Cambodia and Germany. Anyone can work in a firm; I actually like living my life.

4. So you're in remission, right?

This question blows. It's automatically assumed if I've got hair, 2 degrees, and am in an interview, clearly I must be in remission. Nevermind, that technically, they can't ask me that. Not legally, but what lawyers ever pay attention to that. I mention the hair thing b/c its assumed that cancer=chemo=no hair, remission=hair. But my irritation isn't why I dislike the question. The answer is.

I'm not exactly in remission. I'm in freak limbo. I don't want to lie. I don't want to go into the long drawn out explanation of why it doesn't matter. What it comes down to is that they want to know if I'm functional enough to work. Which I am. No matter what their preconceived notion of what having cancer means. But its also true I'll need time off to do testing. I'm not in the clear, technically. Most jobs you can glaze over this fact. I of course want to work for the government, or other physically demanding jobs, that require background checks and medical reports. *If you are someone performing a check on me, I am perfectly functional for working in any condition... my doctor said so!

So on top of the normal stress of graduating and trying to find my first job; trying to find a job in one of the worst economic crisis to hit the US in a while; the first to hit the lawyer job market; and not to mention just normal interview jitters, I'm consumed by trying to figure out how to give explanations about my past, and be convincing that I don't really have issues that would be detrimental in the future. I feel like it requires a certain level of self confidence and certainty that I'm afraid I just haven't been feeling lately.

Oh, and I could really, really, really, use something big to go my way right now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fitness Log #1

Fitness log?!?! Wait? What?! What happened to talking about the thyca?

Well, it all sort of ties in together, and at the end of today's post, I'm thinking of issuing a challenge. But first I need to talk in long, convoluted sentences until I actually hammer out the details in my head of what exactly I want that challenge to be.

The basic role of the thyroid is this: control metabolism. I'm not going to tell you all the science involved. If you've made it to my blog, you've probably already taken a fairly active role in investigating the thyroid for yourself, and not being a doctor I would literally be regurgitating all the information that I've found over the years, which isn't what I want to do.

What I do want to do, is tell you what happened to me. I didn't just steadily gain weight, it came in waves, and not knowing anything about thyroids, I just contributed it to various things. I'm about to do something terrifying... reveal my weight... dun dun duuuuuuuuuun.

In 2000, I weighed 132lbs and would jump to 145 depending on the season. Between January-June 2001, I gained weight to be 160 lbs. In the fall of 2001, I dropped all the fattiness, to be 162 lbs, but fitting a size 9 (US)... normally 145 puts you in about a 10-12 size range. I was a lot of muscle. Then 2002 there was a creep up to 170, and then between February and May 2003, I suddenly jumped to the 190s, not muscle. I dipped below the 190's in 2004 when I was running around Europe, but overall I've been on a steady increase, usually gaining about 8-10 lbs during surgeries or radiation, dropping it back, putting it back on, but always seeming to add a little more. Until this year where I went from 204-215 in about a 3 week period. My all time high for weight was 218.

In 2002 there was an overwhelming synchronization of events, all of which have probably contributed in no small part to me just gaining a lot of weight, but also convinced me that it was sort of normal.

1) I was a soph0more in college... I've labeled my tummy my beer baby
2) I stopped playing volleyball competitively, so no more 2-8 hours of running, jumping, etc on a daily basis
3) I went on birth control shots (very bad idea)

Then one day I went and saw my doctor about it, and he ran tests on my blood work because we all thought it was weird, and it turned up nothing. About 2 months later my obgyn asked me if I knew I had an enlarged thyroid.

I can't say that my thyroid made me a fatty. Like I said, there were a lot of things going on. But I know my tumor was fairly large and had spread, sort of indicating it had been there for quite some time.

The biggest problem I think about having a thyroid condition and dealing with your weight and fitness, is in fact the mental stigma you create out of it. You have no thyroid, how are you supposed to jumpstart it to start metabolizing better and faster. How do you raise your metabolism when it is controlled by a pill? Its another one of those things that make me just generally feel helpless about dealing with the whole cancer issue as a whole. And even worse it makes me feel like weight control and general fitness is an uphilll battle... in the mud, at a 90 degree angle.

Has cancer already affected my self-image, confidence, etc? Well, yeah. Then I moved back home. My step-dad did this total body fitness challenge from January-May; he lost 61 lbs. Staring at someone who was able to drop the weight for a week is enough to motivate just about anyone to get out of their funk.

So I have signed up at Any Time Fitness, and I'm working with a personal trainer. Just for two months right now. 1 hour twice a week. She's changed my diet, has me running, etc. I started working with her on my birthday (June 1) and have dropped 3.5 lbs. It isn't a lot, but it is a start, and I already feel my muscles getting back into their groove.

Its a good time to do this for me. It breaks up studying for the bar exam, and is helping me not snack on comfort foods 24/7 while studying. I'm also in a major transition point in life where I have nearly half a year in limbo. What better time to make myself better. And mentally its cool too. I look at what happened at the end of my time in Pittsburgh, and what I've learned over the last few check-ups, and I'm realizing this might be the best way for me to stick it to the thyca, and regain some basic control over this small thing in my life.

I think each week, or everyother week I'll throw up a fitness log to show my progress. Not so much for bragging rights, I swear, but for other people struggling with their weight, having the mental block w/ thyca, etc. It provides motivation for me to keep up with it, but I think if you are like me... seeing someone in your position doing it, might be the boost you need. (like my step-dad is for me).

So my challenge, should you choose to accept it, is this. Take control of this part of your life, whether it be losing those extra pounds or getting into better shape (ie building up and toning some muscle). I'm not saying go get yourself a trainer. Thats mad wicked expensive. I got the trainer as a birthday/graduation present, and threw in graduation money. But there are enough free resources online, and basic common sense to start off with. If your interested, maybe we can build a little support group; maybe let people do some guest blogging if they do well? Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Would you like to take a survey?

So I've been juggling around about 50 different ideas of things I would really like to blog about. I think its kind of a side-effect of getting picked up by Wellsphere Health Blog Network, really getting into the different resources that are available out there for cancer survivors, and pure whole hearted effort to procrastinate and avoid studying. Not to mention I'm trying to space out blog posts; maybe write them and not post, so I have things around for weeks when not much is going on (yes, I'm putting in the effort of making this at least, a weekly blog).

But today's topic trumped all the others because I'm guessing it is a little more time sensitive. It is a survey about how cancer has affected your sexual life. I'll be honest, it's awkward to take. It's about 30 minutes of personal questions rating everything from emotions and feelings, to how you consider yourself in bed. I realize that a lot of you might be totally turned off by this, which I understand. But the purpose is to see the difference between people w/ cancer and people without when it comes to sexuality.

I have my own opinions about cancer and sex, and how much "the system" and doctors address the issue. I'm going to save those for a later post, maybe after the results from this study come out.

So here is the link:
The Sexual Self of Young Adult Cancer Survivors and as Compared to their Healthy Peers

Please take the quiz, and pass it along. It is for both cancer survivors and people w/out cancer.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Let's have a conversation about medical malpractice.

Before I get into it, let me say the construction is near completion. I require some colored pencils, and a bit more html coding, and it should be golden. But all the links work. I can't express how proud I am to have figured out how to do it all.

But now on to today's topic. The reason that it has come up for me is that my mom is having surgery today on her foot. The first time she had surgery it was this time last year. They used a donor bone graft to replace some broken bones. The graft didn't hold and her foot shattered. This led to another surgery in January. They put in some pins, and plate that was supposed to stay in for 2 years.

Now the pin holding that plate in place is rubbing against a bone and I believe hitting a nerve. This has caused immense amounts of pain and swelling, and she hasn't been able to return to work. Over the past few weeks we learned that it wasn't that the pin was the wrong size, but rather that the doctor turned the screw two notches too tight. Now, he is removing both the pin, and the plate in her foot (the one that was supposed to be in there for 2 years). He said she doesn't need it b/c the bone is healed.

So is this malpractice? Should she be paying for this surgery correcting the doctor's mistake? He's a reputable doctor. He's been both mine and her foot doctor for years. We have a relationship with him. Comfortable. Trusting. But well, things went wrong.

I think at some point in our cancer experiences, most people go through something like this. Where your gut feeling says, something is quite right here. Second guessing doctors, especially on life and death decisions seems incredibly natural. That's why we get second opinions, right? But when should we be standing up to our doctors if mistakes are made? Where is the line between normal hazard and an actual mistake? When should we become sue happy? If we sue what are we suing for?

During my first surgery, my surgeon nicked my vocal nerve, paralyzing my left vocal fold. The neck is a delicate area full of nerves, and I knew there was a risk of something like that happening. But once it did, and then paying for voice therapy, lypo injections, choking on my on spit, not being able to raise my voice in class or when out w/ friends... you start questioning whether the doctor botched the surgery, and maybe, at a minimum they should be the ones paying for putting you back together. But in my case, I reread through the reports from my surgery. I read about how my cancer was touching, nearly wrapping around the nerve.

When my surgeon met up with my parents, she was nervous to tell them what happened. Admission of a mistake, or was she more shaken that there was nothing she could do to avoid such injury? She's been lableled as one of the top thyroid surgeons in the world. She remembers me... yes a surgeon recognizes and remembers me. She's the one that told me that yeah, it was probably mentally healthy for me to drink and that I did in fact need to cry. I am comfortable with her. I trust her. And basically my judgment is that, if I needed a similar surgery again, I would go to her first (and did, until she sent me to someone more specialized in neck dissections).

I very purposely did not take health law in law school. I took disability discrimination, which each day made me a complete mess, often sending me into a downward spiral of "what if's". I can see a lawsuit for most issues. You don't want that when you need to trust your doctors. You almost don't even want to tell your doctors you're a lawyer... they get edgy. But at the same time I regret that I didn't learn about what my rights really are. How to stand up for myself, when I need to; or to stand up for my mom.

And finally, my doctor from up north has informed me that I'm not to use any local doctors here. That I should go to DC, or to only use doctors at major Universities, especially b/c of how complicated my situation is. So, if I do have to see a small local doctor, and he starts doing things that are outdated, do I tell him he's wrong? Is he liable for malpractice? I've talked to soooo many other thyca patients whose doctors have them doing things that shock the conscience. Whether its long waits, or using proceedures that seem arcaic, I wonder what kind of standards these doctors should be held to, and what rights we as the patients have to mandate getting the most quality care.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Dear Everyone,

The Blog is under a lot of construction right now. Instead of studying for the bar exam, I'm learning html code, trying to throw on some static pages, putting up new links and badges, and I actually went through and spell checked things! There's labels on all the posts, and a Cloud Label box now. But beware... until you see a regular post from me, there may just be links to nothingness...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Do I look funny?

So, I'm having one of those really just bizarre days, but in a good way... That is until I decided on today's post topic. It all started when I was eating lunch, and suddenly, this fox walks up to me. Now I don't live in the country. I'm in the middle of Virginia Beach, on Regent University's campus, eating a sandwich in between my bar prep class and sitting in the library. And then there was a fox. He kinda just looked at me, I looked at him, and then he just trotted away into some bushes.

So then I was listening to the Stupid Cancer Show. If you don't know, its a blog radio show, that I'm sure I'll have a whole post dedicated to at some point. Its very good; Monday nights 9pm eastern. If you go on, there's a live chat room, I go by robs723 and enjoy talking to people. Anywho, tonight's episode was all about sex and cancer, and I somehow managed to win a book by asking a question.

Now my question kind of got cut in two thanks to how much I could type in the chat box, so it got answered sort of awkwardly. But basically, it was how do you talk to a partner about how to be touched. The first part of the question that got lost described how I have no feeling from under my left ear and the left underside of my chin, through my left shoulder, and down into my chest. Nerve damage from a neck dissection. It screwed up everything from my golf game to how I like to be touched intimately. It kind of gives me the willies to have a light caress in that area that I can't really feel, or worse, a hard one that feels like pins and needles. Can you tell a guy not to touch you there... how do you get over how that feels? Can they tell that something is wrong? Do they get upset if you don't respond quite right? That was what I meant to be my full question.

So then it started me thinking about how I've looked since surgery. How one of my eyes squints more than the other when I smile. In general how the left side of my face, at least to me seems to hang ever so slightly. I wonder if my left arm or shoulder does the same. And so I got to wondering... "Do I look funny; awkward; a little off?" I'm pretty sure in my mind it is all exaggerated a little bit more; but I go through pictures and I see little differences, and see images of me where I just look weird. I mean maybe that's why I can't seem to find a guy to date; maybe they all look at me and see the weird and off balanced features that I see?

Little pet anxieties, and insecurities. And it isn't something anyone can make you feel better about. If they say they don't see what you are talking about, they are just trying to be nice and reassuring; if they actually don't see it, it's because they aren't used to looking at your face all the time, or didn't know you before. These are the thoughts that run through our minds and leave us in a perpetual circle of insecurity. I wish I could give you all some magic advice about how to overcome the thoughts; but I can't. I struggle with them to an obsessive point, cry about them at night, if I'm having a particularly sensitive day, and then blog when I can't think of any other way to get them out of my head.