Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Look out, I just might be playing in the sun soon!

One of my holiday gifts arrived in today's mail, and I can't wait to try it out. My husband had seen a woman driving in what he described as "a Darth Vadar or welder's helmet", and he thought it was something I might be able to use to get around town in the daylight. He searched on the web, and located this product: FaceVisor http://www.facevisor.com/. I ordered a full shield , figuring it was worth a try. The return address on the package today showed Canada, and the shield is made in Korea, so it has been around before reaching me (grin!) The shield goes just to my ear (the glasses do interfere a bit with the shield going flat down over my face), but I have hopes that it will give me some relief while driving in the winter sun. I also hope it will allow me to ride a bike this spring & summer - I have been saving up for one of the Electra Townie's.
I had asked about UV protection at the dermatologist's and the radiation oncologist's offices, but no one had mentioned a shield (they basically said to stay out of the sun). Since using sunblock cream right now is still out of the question (I break out if I use anything other than Cetaphil cream), this shield will hopefully keep me protected.
Another couple of products that I have seen lately are hats - one at Coolibar http://www.coolibar.com/02512.html, and another at Gaiam http://www.gaiam.com/retail/product/04-0348_MSTR. I may be getting one or both of these as well, since my needs will change over the year to come.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

That other thing we are certain of - taxes

I read on a discussion list that 200 Americans a year are diagnosed with ACC - a number I haven't been able to confirm yet, but I am working on it. ACC is reported in other countries all over the world - I once read that higher numbers are diagnosed in Europe/UK and Japan than here, again, I haven't been able to confirm that figure. If you are someone like me that 'won' the cancer lottery this year (I would rather have won the cash, thank you!), you may be dealing with high medical bills as you heal. In the USA, the Internal Revenue service offers some help with the bills in the form of a tax deduction if your bills exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html. Using an accountant or tax-filing service would probably offer you the best assistance when filing for this deduction. I don't know if other countries have a similar deduction - checking with your nation's revenue office, such as HM Revenue & Customs in the United Kingdom http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/individuals/, would be your first step towards getting answers.
In the meantime, be thinking about how all of us ACC folks could sign up for a single cruise someday, just to get to know each other. Ah, the power and influence we could wield if we got together even once! Invite some cancer researchers along for the ride, and we might end up with a head start on how to cure this 'slow but extremely aggressive' menace.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Back at work, and doing fine!

Well, actually I am on vacation at the moment, but will be back after the holidays full-day strong.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Silence, in this case, has been golden

I have been working, enjoying my family, walking around the malls (Omaha has had a spate of bright sunshine, keeping me indoors between 8 & 5 each day!), and generally enjoying life as I know it. Symptoms I have grown used to: swelling and pain around my left ear and cheek, fatigue (but everyone else says those business meetings knock them out, too-grin!), and lack of taste. Improvements I have noticed: feeling has returned to most of my face, and I have a little bit of baby hair growing at the back of my head on my former bald spot(!). I am getting up the nerve to get my first professional hair cut since July - my husband said he has hung up his clippers (he practically shaved my head in September when the hair was causing me pain with the radiation areas). I have been strong and brave enough for the dentist to work on the inside, but having someone fiddle around my ear and scalp has kept me away from the hairdresser. I predict that desperation and wanting to look my best before going to the moms for the holidays will win over my fears soon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Celebrations past and yet to come

My husband and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary on Friday with a lunch out at a restaurant I have only eaten at since radiation treatment - so I still don't know what the food really tastes like, but the food's texture is acceptable, and the ambiance can't be beat! His gift to me - SNL's Christmas Past DVD - my kind of comedy!
I am a member of two teams to purchase party food for holiday events this year, and not too sure what I am doing. Right now, it all smells wonderful, but even if the caterer was handing out free samples by the shovel-full, I couldn't tell if it was good or not (and if it is spicy, or contains citrus or tomatoes, I could hurt myself trying it). I simply depend on the opinions of folks around me, and am glad that I am included in the festivities! (I think I mentioned before that there was a show on one of the tv channels about a blind decorator - I wonder if there could be a taste-blind chef show that would be worth watching? If there are any scouts out there, I am up for the challenge!) I have also been planning our family's traditional buffet that the kids love, and have purchased what we usually have each year: cheeses, meats, relishes, sweets (and the occasional vegetable). Since baked goods, sweets, most meats and cheeses are out of my league this year, I think I will add my current dish of choice: Kashi Pilaf http://store.kashi.com/heritage_pilaf.aspx?SID=1&Category_ID=73&
. As for toasting in the new year, I will be clinking my husband's wine glass with my water glass (don't tell Miss Manners!).
Being with the people rather than concentrating on food is what makes this time special for me. I am getting better at staying under the radar of overly-solicitous hosts and their worrying that I am not eating as much as they think I should be (again, my old Weight Watchers' skills coming in handy). If someone appears to feel slighted that I haven't tasted their special dishes, I may explain the reason why, depending if I know them well. Otherwise, I may just shrug and not admit to speaking English...

I bring up the subject of food and gifts because someone asked me recently what gifts to give to friends affected by major illness in their lives. It probably depends on your friends' taste, but you can't go wrong with laughter, creating or remembering good memories, and yourself. For more help on coping with cancer and the holidays, check out OncoLink's Holiday Survival Guide: http://www.oncolink.com/coping/section.cfm?c=6&s=61
 
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