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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Bearded Lady

Those wacky, weird things that take you on a free roller coaster ride once a month. The troublemakers that have you stuffing your pie hole with  as many fattening things as you can find, while in the middle of a diet because you DESERVE IT GOD DAMN IT! When else would you ever get a desire to eat a bucket of greasy KFC even though you know what it will do to your cholesterol readings, to your butt, to your poor liver?
Hormones will cause alcohol cravings, especially when you're by yourself. And we're talking about the entire wine bottle plus possibly a second one being opened as you weep through The First Wives Club DVD or the like.
The binge-ing  doesn't make you feel any better, but you can't seem to stop for any reason.
 It is a time of ultimate non-sense. Literally.
 It's pathetic. There's no control. No will power. No power at all. They turn you into a ragged doll.

Well, try that on a daily basis and then welcome to my new world.

Whatever is in this Zoladex and Tamoxifin has me trampolining up on highs  and down on lows like an Olympic gymnast. I can go from joy to manic depression in the time it takes a bird to discover I just washed my car.
There isn't enough food in the fridge to satisfy me. I watch, defeated, as my waist spills over my waist band, while my dress gets snugger and the scale number increases.

The hot flashes continue as often as traffic light changes, but the good news is they have either leveled out or else I have simply gotten used to them? Like a tick in the corner of an eye, they get ignored. They are not important so why give them any credence? They've become the easiest part of all of this.

Sleep? What's that? Bedtime is more like a horizontal roller derby event. With absolutely no sex involved because who wants to do that? There is no libido. That went out with the chemo. And if I do participate in any mattress games, I am sore the next day from dryness. Add sperm retention to the drug's side effects. And I don't know about your man, but mine doesn't get happier when he's retaining. And if he's not happy, nobody is going to be happy. Ever, ever again.

And thinking this fun would have to have a limit, because, I mean, how much else can one take, I happened to look in a mirror.

Why do we do that?

No, not another nose growing. Not longer lashes but you're thinking along the right lines. More hair. But not on my head. I'm growing a beard, Ladies and Gentlemen. Step right up, get your tickets here to see the lovely bearded lady from Houston. Complete with side burns, neck fur and all.

This is silly. I can fix this. Its not the end of the world. I bought some facial wax because my girlfriend uses it. You heat it up, apply and pull off. Simple. So they say.
The smoke smell lasted three days in our kitchen and a week right inside of the microwave. Seems I got it a bit hot. I spread the wax on with a thin Popsicle stick and let it harden as recommended. Then you have to peel it back.Well Holy Mother. My face came off with each tug. Tears welled up, my body went into one long hot flash from the stress and my husband came home to ask what the heck was that smell?
And I still had to get the blob of wax, settled like caramel off of my jaw line.
"Just be a minute, Honey."

Off to the professional I go. For a cheek wax. That's about five times the area of the eyebrow waxing that I managed to live through once and never again. My eyebrows puffed out an inch from my head and stayed that way over 24 hours.
With a face job, you can see the new wrinkles form with each tug of the waxed strip they pull from your skin.
For what?
Owwwwwwwww. I've had tattoos that hurt less.
I would say this hurt even  more than the partial mastectomy.
And in both incidences, at least I was offered drugs!

So, the next time you want to moan about your PMS symptoms because you're miserable and out of control- give me a call. I'll come over with some chocolate and my new waxing kit and we'll get you straightened out.
You'll feel nice and smooth when I'm done.
And guaranteed you won't feel like your hormone issues are any worse than the rest of ours!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Calling All Cancer Survivors

I had a very informative chat today with a woman named Maria at the Canadian Cancer Society. I called their toll-free number because it had been given to me when I first learned I had breast cancer in case I wanted to be "paired" with a breast cancer survivor. I vaguely remember being told about it, amidst a thousand other things more important to remember at the time. You initially get hit with such a barrage of  info sheets, booklets and pamphlets on top of your own research through the Internet and books. At one time I had seven books about cancer stacked beside my bed for some gruesome late-night reading.

Sadly, I forgot all about it until I was rooting through my "cancer bag" information sheets and there it was.

I called them now that my treatments have finished because I was going to add their information to my book, Running From The Cancer Cooties and wanted to make sure the service was still available. And, I admit, I was curious about what I had missed out on.

The CCS has a pool of volunteers who are cancer survivors. These generous people are willing to be contacted by newly diagnosed cancer patients who are in need of a mentor or friend to help them down the new path they've suddenly found themselves on. These people have been there and they have been trained to help you. They take courses on how to talk with you, how to better relate what they went through so that you will benefit the most from their knowledge. For better or for worse, you have someone willing to help you understand what you will be facing.
You phone the CCS up, they take your information and they "pair" you with someone compatible, someone willing to talk to you over the phone or through e-mails about whatever it is you need to know.

Where was my head at when I was given the number? I sure could have used this service!

I think the majority of my high anxiety throughout the entire ordeal was from never knowing what exactly I faced next. The cancer books and info pamphlets told me basically what was going to happen, but they never quite got to the real truths of everything. Like are their hairdryers in the hospital rooms? Don't laugh- it was one of my burning questions and it was the difference between packing an overnight suitcase or an overnight bag for my two day hospital stay. I never travel light. I hate needing something that I have at home, so I drag everything with me.
Of course I had plenty of serious questions. Like what happens after the biopsy comes back positive? What happens after surgery? What is this staging everyone talks about? Are you on a special diet? Questions like what does the chemo drug feel like when it hits your veins? Does it burn or sting? (No, it doesn't) Can I wear nail polish when going through chemotherapy? (you can, but preferably you shouldn't in case something goes really sideways) How big will the next incisions be for a second surgery? Will they use the same scars? How long will I be on a couch for after surgery? Will I be able to do much the first few days?

I was so impressed with the program that I got thinking, there's a list of things I would like to share with the people coming behind me, as well. That's why I am recording it all in a book.

Marie told me that one year after my last treatment, I am eligible to sign up as a CCS volunteer. I fill out an application and get a reply back about the next steps. If accepted, there will be on-line interviews, orientation and training. Phone calls exchanged. It sounded like a very thorough process. Psychological training and counselling included. You won't just be talking to some wing-nut who is a little lonely. This will be a person who seriously wants to help you. The old "pay it forward." Do for others what others have done for you, possibly? Whatever their reasons, these people are there for you. I would like to be a part of that.

But Man, I could have used some of that help not that long ago. Just someone to say to me, Whoa. Relax. It's all going to be okay no matter what happens. Quit suffering. It doesn't have to be this way.

If you are a survivor of any type of cancer and want to volunteer, or if you are going through the cancer trip and want a peer to talk to, please, please call

1-888- 939-3333

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friends Can Make All The Difference

I was in a book store today  looking to buy something for a friend when I came across a classic title on a little hardcover. "Life is Crap."
For the next five minutes as I flipped through the imagined hardships of the author I laughed my fool head off. I had people in other aisles breaking out in laughter because of how hard I was laughing.
It was just so darned funny to see my life in comic mode. The feeling of having toilet paper stuck to your heel while a dog lifts its leg and pees on your briefcase, as you open a letter with the words "you're fired" on it. I laughed so hard that the black cloud hanging over my head rose up and blew away. I walked into that store with it raining down on me and left lighter and straighter, stepping out  into the sunshine I have been missing for three weeks. Finally.
Thanks everyone for helping me to get to this stage with the kind words and cards and stories and pictures and love. I think that little book was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Now things can begin to resume again.
I am back in the writer's chair and trying to plow my way through Book Three, titled Running From The Cancer Cooties. It's memoirs, a collection of the Cancer Blogs from the past year. Amazing that it WILL be a year July 27th.
On that exact day, I will be here at the house surrounded by great friends- one flying up from Vancouver, one coming from New Zealand, a hand full already here. A Ladies Nite Out party will ensue two days later on the 29th. Lemon meringue pie martinis, non-alcoholic Saudi champagnes, wine of every colour. There will be a harmonica and guitar, singing, bon fire and remembering the days when we were in our thirties, feeling old, feeling fat, feeling the pressures of trying to do a thousand things at once and still keeping up the smile. I look back at that phase of my life now and wonder "what was I thinking?"

What did we know? What did we know? What do we know now?

I know that its one thing to say we should live life to the fullest and another to get busy doing it. I don't mean running harder and faster to pack more in. I mean making sure that when a moment arises, you grab it. Don't weigh out how much more work something will be. If it involves friends and making more memories, just do it. Put down your life for a moment and take the time to be with the people you love. You can never get back this exact stage of your life that you're in right now.

I know that whatever the excuse, we need to get together more often to celebrate life with our good friends now while we're able and alive instead of later at each other's funerals and services.
If there is one bit of advice I would like to leave my kids it's to surround yourself with good people. And then never let them go. In the world of Internet and e-mail and Skype, we are never further away than the time it takes us to turn on a computer.These people can make all the difference in your world.
Here are a few great quotes about friends:

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.  ~Lois Wyse

A friend can tell you things you don't want to tell yourself.  ~Frances Ward Weller

A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should.  ~Author Unknown

Friends are relatives you make for yourself.  ~Eustache Deschamps

You can always tell a real friend:  when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job.  ~Laurence J. Peter

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.  ~Douglas Pagels

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.  ~Elisabeth Foley

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.  ~Albert Schweitzer

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.  ~John Leonard

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere." 
---Tim McGraw

"I believe that friends are quiet angels who sit on our shoulders and lift our wings when we forget how to fly."