Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ok, I can't believe I'm doing this but I am pulling all of my social networking cred to ask everyone out there to spend 1 minute of their time to vote for me for a competition called Host Our Cost.

Vote for me here--> Host Our Coast

The competition is this: spend the summer backpacking the Delmarva Peninsula Blogging about it. You get $15,000 and free room and board, and you have to go out and do all sorts of activities and explore towns and check out the wild life, etc.

I was in fact made for exactly this type of job.

I assume if you are reading this, you're probably a regular, so you most likely know I'm not half bad when it comes to writing. I would also hope that you've perused my blog and found links to my travel blogs over on the left hand side: Hamburgers and Vodka, and Chasing Tigers.

I really do love to travel and blog. If I thought that I could realistically afford my life while doing it, I think I would... (also if I thought my parents wouldn't kill me w/ the whole law school thing).

For the competition, we had to submit minute long videos about why we want to be hosts... plus a sample blog.

From you all, I ask that you click the link and vote for my video... and also, if you happen to have blogs of your own, if you would be willing to post the link there as well.

I'm not a communications or journalism major. I've taught myself how to do html script and video editing, so I'm a bit behind there... and you all are really my major internet social networking group.

It's something I know I can do, and do awesomely. So I really hope you all take a few minutes of your time and vote for me... --->here


PS... if you at least watch the video, you'll get your very first glimpses of me and how incredibly corny and awkward I am in real life... that in and of itself should be motivation to at least go watch the video

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Introduction to Cancer and Relationships

So, I’ve been looking over my posts over the last year or so (can’t believe I’ve been posting for over a year), and I’ve started to notice that I tend to only talk about my immediate reactions to what I’m dealing with at that moment. I am an emo blogger… a part of me just died. Granted, this is sort of the whole purpose of the blog: something to keep me from bottling up everything making me a walking time bomb. But, there’s 4 years worth of cancer life that I lived before I joined the blogosphere. I’ve mentioned a few topics, usually directly concerning what I was doing with my cancer, but never really going too much into the little stories and details that have sort of built up around my cancer world.

I’ve slowly been reading through Everything Changes, and by slowly I mean I get through as many pages as possible before feeling a sudden urge to just ball my eyes out, at which point I have to stop. Books make me cry, more so than any other medium I’ve come across. Anywho, with each new chapter a new memory has gotten triggered. A lot of stuff I just haven’t thought about. A lot of stuff I just didn’t have words for. A lot of stuff that is so mundanely obscure, (ie. The chocolate cake story… yet to be written) that I’m surprised it’s logged itself into my meory at all. (I wonder if this is how people feel reading what I've written) And so I thought, maybe I should actually start writing down some of these stories. The small ones that seem almost meaningless; the large ones that somehow managed to shape my world.

I’ve chosen to start with a larger one. A topic, that surprisingly enough I’ve managed to avoid like the plague throughout writing this blog, despite the fact that in the real world it’s probably one of my most mind consuming issues. I am of course talking about dating and relationships.

I’m guessing w/ the title of this post that seemed a lot less like a big build-up. I really wish you all could hear exactly how these things go on in my head… I think it would be about 95% more amusing that way.

So on with the topic. I’m guessing if you’ve read through my blog, there’s a few things you’ve probably picked up on when it comes to my interpersonal relationships, and my less than shiny happy demeanor towards them… this of course overflows into my dating life, and is then magnified exponentially. I have a hard time trusting people. I don’t like the idea of needing anyone. And I don’t like being a burden. And there hasn’t been a whole lot of supporting evidence in the last 5 years that maybe I’ve been overreacting.

Be prepared, I’m about to tell you about pre-cancer robs. I started dating this boy when I was 18. I’m gonna gloss over a lot of details, and acknowledge there are some dimensions to this relationship that I’m leaving out all together, no point in dissecting everything. I lived in Pittsburgh, he lived in Norfolk, he was a family friend. Nice kid. Um… exceedingly nice kid. And we dated for about 2 ½ years. Then one day (well not really one day, it had been something I had been planning for years, and told him about before hand) I decided to go study abroad. To compound on this, I also got an internship with the State Department in the Marshall Islands. Suddenly we were looking at 7 months apart w/ 1 week in the middle, where I would be home, which happened to fall on my 21st b-day. Needless to say, this didn’t go over so well, and at some point in March, while I was off trekking around Europe, we broke-up, more or less. I don’t think you can just drop something like that, not after 2 ½ years… at least that’s what I thought.

It took over half a year for us to have some final spats, before we weren’t always in each other’s life and start moving on. Two months later I had cancer. Telling people was hard; telling those closest to me harder; telling the person who had been my best friend and center of my universe for the last three years, impossible. I couldn’t do it. He had broken my heart, and I was just getting back to a point where I had moved on and we were friends. I needed to not need him. But, in lot of ways I did need him. I needed to be loved, and held, and have someone else be strong. I needed the person that new me backwards, forwards, inside and out. I hadn’t dealt with anything bad in my life alone in years. Who else in the world would have a better idea how to handle and support me? But I chose not to drag him back into it.

It was my mom that told him in the end. Which makes sense… he was my step-dads fraternity brother (much younger), they were friends, he was practically their adopted son. I got an IM. “I heard you were sick. I’m sorry”

That was the response from my best friend. No, “hey do you need anything.” No phone call to see if I was ok, what was going to happen or anything. No indication that he cared. He met his obligation of acknowledging he heard I was sick. Maybe yeah, we had drifted over the last couple months. And yes, I let a bit of my pride get in the way of automatically turning him when I found out I was sick… but like I said, center of my universe for the last few years. I know for sure if anything had happened to him, and I found out, I probably would have dropped my life and been down there in a heartbeat.

I wasn’t at my computer. We never spoke again.

Not really at least. We see each other at parties. There’s the occasional word or two. I don’t think I have ever felt such wrath towards anyone else in the world.

Like I said earlier, this is a really genuinely nice guy. The drama between us is usually contributed to my doing. I’ve kept my mouth shut. Except for once. Very drunkenly after a party I told one of the other frat-brothers; said the reason I didn’t talk to the kid anymore, not even as friends, was because he wasn’t there for me when I got sick. He had the expected reaction, disgust and disappointment. I briefly felt justified. Someone understood why I was angry.

I've done a lot of wondering what would have happened if I hadn't had cancer. He’s married now, has a kid... and there is a small part of me, until recently, that would scream out, "THATS SUPPOSED TO BE ME AND MY LIFE!" We didn't break up because we didn't love each other, we did it more because we did. And as I was getting ready to graduate, it seemed pretty reasonable that I could move home, and our situation could change to a point where we could actually be together. But then I got cancer.

Mom and I talked about it a couple weeks ago. The subject of my lack of dating comes up a lot these days. And she just said that he wouldn’t of been able to handle it. If we had stayed together, me having cancer would have destroyed him.

Why do other people get sort of a pass for not being able to handle cancer? I wish I could get a pass. “Cancer would destroy Robin. She should just not have to deal with it.” I wanna opt out of a relationship w/ my cancer self.

I’m not really angry any more. That was part of the strange part of writing this post. Trying to portray how I really felt when things were going on. A lot has happened. I don't even think that's really the life I wanted anymore. Even then I questioned the whole settling down so young life. And I look at him now, and its like looking at an acquaintance; he knows nothing about me, doesn't have a clue about how cancer has changed me. I wonder if he looks at me now and thinks I'm the same person. As for me, I vaguely remember this one time in my life, where for a couple of years I wasn’t alone. And that’s about it memory wise.

And that was my crash course introduction to relationships and cancer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Price of Staying on Top of my Health


I'm not going to get into a debate on the cost of health care here. I'm just going to make some very basic statements of fact about that number you are looking at up there. I am lucky; I pay an arm and a leg every month, and the occasional promise of a first born child to keep me insured. One month of health coverage costs more than one month of my last rent. And being that I'm lucky, that number up there got knocked down to $113.85.

Now what is this number for? Is it for a doctors visit... no. It's for the basic blood work I am supposed to do every 6 months for the rest of my life to stay on top of my health. Now I admit, I added on two things I wanted checked. Why? Because I'm an informed thyroid cancer patient, and I know that there are certain thins docs don't regularly look at, but if they are off can really screw with you. First, I asked for a Free T-3... $184... I know that the T-3 debate rages on from health professionals to patients alike. I was just curious. And there has been enough talk about it that I figured I should get it tested, and if it was really low, then I could really make a decision about a t-3 supplement. The second, and probably more normal thing I asked to have tested was my Vitamin D. I mean... its winter... thyca people tend to have Vitamin D issues. I was a little itty bitty bit lower than my doctor wanted me the last time.... $221. Oh and my doc threw in a CBC just to make sure my white blood cells were ok.

So all these "extra" tests that we get told we should do, and that we do just to stay on top of things... well they sort of like to rape our wallets. Even the reduced $113 still hits hard when you know you're doing that at least twice a year. I may have to make my testing decisions based on costs for now on. There's a part of me that just died while making that statement.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Death by Lettuce Beginnings

Another quite ancient post that I found deep in the recesses of my hard drive. This is from August/Septemberish 2007 I think. A lot of this is probably gonna sound pretty familiar, particularly the last paragraph. But really, I wrote it all a year before I even thought of starting this blog. This was actually meant to be the start of my book that never quite panned out...

As I stood in the Ballroom of the Student Union, I looked across the faces of the 230 plus people who had decided to attend the conference. After three years I still managed to be the youngest person in the crowd. It was about three years ago this November or October… funny, I don’t really remember the exact date… that I was getting my yearly check up and my doctor felt my neck, turned to me and said, “You know you have an enlarged thyroid, right?” This single phrase has more or less turned my world upside down and inside out. That lump turned out to be thyroid cancer. I was only 21; a senior in college. Dreams of joining Ameri-corps for a year followed up with law school in D.C. It’s surprising how fast things can change; but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I almost wanted to start this next paragraph with, “The fact is someone should have figured this out earlier.” But I’m aiming not to put blame on any person because that’s really just silly, and there isn’t any clear evidence that the thyroid cancer had anything to do with other issues I was having. But there were some indications something was wrong... I first gained 30 pounds during the second semester of my senior year of high school, odd mainly because I was an athlete. I gained another 30 pounds over three months during my sophomore year of college. The following summer, unable to really drop the weight and being fairly frustrated by it I had blood tests run. Everything came back normal. That was August, and like I said the lump was discovered around October/November.

I don’t think people like to have me at support group meetings, or in cancer survival conferences. Its not that I’m not likeable, it’s more that I’m young, and they expect me to say something positive. But instead I tend to turn out to be an embodiment of everyone’s worst nightmares. Granted I fully recognize compared to many other cases I’m living a blessed life. I am lucky that it hasn’t spread to my lungs and bones. I am lucky I am young enough to bounce back from radiation fairly quickly. I am lucky because I am more or less positive that I’m not going to die of cancer at any point in the near future.

Next Friday I’m getting another ultrasound of my neck. It hasn’t even been 6 months since the last one. In all honesty it is the one part of this that scares me the most. At least the FNA (fine needle aspiration) is. The first time, they had me facing the screen and I watched in horror as the needle moved back and forth in my neck, and the doctors remarked how it was the biggest that they had ever seen. Last January I went in for one because I had felt a new lump in my neck. While it turned out to be nothing, sitting in that waiting room for the first real time, I lost my faith in God. It wasn’t that I was scared, which I was, to the point where I was doing nothing but praying in the waiting room. But I looked over at a family at a table. There was a young girl there who clearly had severe Down syndrome. But even worse than that was that she also clearly was there to get another round of chemo therapy. And the family looked tired and unnaturally old, and the girl looked innocent and ignorant of what she was going through.

Originally, Death by Lettuce was going to be a book; one of those inspirational tales told by a cancer survivor which instills hope in every other person with thyroid cancer. Its spine would be pink and the title would be in a hand written font. There would be a cartoon lettuce with sharp pointy teeth about to eat a little curly haired cartoon character of myself. It would be something Oprah would pick up, and I would go on her show and become a model poster child for thyroid cancer awareness. But books about survival tend to have a message, special survival tips, great words of wisdom and lessons learned, or at least some sort of happy ending. I’m afraid my book would end up reading more like a Steinbeck novel.