Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” Emma Donoghue

I’m human. Contrary to beliefs that I’m a Super Warrior chick (which I kind of am), I still struggle with a lot of things these days. Not sure if it’s post cancer angst, old age, menopause, or just the way the fecking stars are aligned. Which ever…..it’s been a funky week for me, and I needed to get that off my “foobs”/chest.

I woke up this morning with the thought that…..holy shite….it’s already half way through the year. Winter is coming!!!!!😩Reference to Game of Thrones for those of you that don’t watch it. But seriously…..I almost had a panic attack. Like….Christ on a bike…..I’m NOT ready for another Winter ALONE!!! 😳🤦‍♀️😩 My hopes for even a second date have been dashed….the dude has dropped off the face of the earth. Hopefully he hasn’t dropped off the face of a cliff in the White Mountains (which was the last text I got from him over a week ago as he set off to go hiking 🙄). More likely, he met someone closer to where he lives….which is perfectly fine and TOTALLY understandable. Just wish he had the balls to drop me a text, and not just disappear. So…..back to the drawing board I go. Man, is it EXHAUSTING!! I may have to just throw in the towel, and join the Nunnery, because at this rate, I’m a born again virgin anyway!!! Plus another upside would be that there would be more help with schlepping in the wood!!!! LMArseO!!! Not EVER going to happen. 🤦‍♀️

Now I know what your thinking. Cora…..be positive. Don’t wish or worry your life away. To which I would answer….tell me to be more positive than I already am 98% of the time…..and I will punch you in the head. Not literally. Figuratively….but there may be a wee slap if you were in front of me. Just a gentle one, because I love you. 😘❤️ 😂

And I work VERY hard at not worrying too much….but sometimes it gets the better of me. Like when I was in the shower this morning doing my self Breast exam (#Buddy2buddy)….low and fecking behold….Louise had what felt like a lump on the medial aspect of my foob. Can you say PUKE!!! Which I almost did. But after poking and feeling the shite out of her pretty much ALL day (in between patients of course)…..I have come to the conclusion that it is just a wrinkle in my implant that when in a certain position, feels like a small lump. But is not. I think. I hope. Anyway…..I am laying the burden down until I go for my physical next Friday, and have my Nurse Practitioner cop a feel, and tell me what she thinks. Then we will go from there. Welcome to my world post breast cancer…..it can be a minefield of fears.

So this evening, after stuffing my face with a great salad…..I decided to write down my fears, and set them free. Try my best to be brave. Sorry that you guys have to listen to them….but as my tribe, it’s kind of a requirement. And you know….I would do the same for you. Also know that we all have fears about whatever is going down in our own lives, but we never have to face them alone.

Happy Solstice to you my brave ones, my tribe. 💞

Dating at 50…..with a breast cancer diagnosis and foobs to boot……

Dating at any age can be interesting. But dating when you’ve turned 50, is like biking up Cadillac Mountain on a 3 speed. Slow and painful 😣 THEN you add the extra layer of breast cancer boob/foob stuff…..well then shit gets real! PLUS….when you live at the end of the universe, chance meetings are, well….few and far between.

So Match, or some such dating site is what we are left with. And let me tell ya…..I would rather be back at the Sisters of No Mercy getting beaten across the back of the head with a bible (true story)……than be on those sites. BUT…spending the rest of my days on this earth without that special man in my life, is NOT an option, so here I am. Cyber dating, and sucking at it.

Not that I haven’t met some VERY nice men on Match. Over the past 5 yrs (with a hiatus of a few years because of the cancer thing), I’ve been on approx 10 dates. First dates mind you. No one was horrible, but they were not “second date worthy” in my mind. That’s sounds pretty harsh once it’s written down…..but what I mean is that as nice as they were, I just didn’t want to waste anyone’s time (including my own) on pretending there was something there. I’ll know it when I see it. And at this time, I haven’t. Seen it.

But what I HAVE seen, are some very interesting emails. For those of you NOT familiar with dating web sites (lucky you), you check out a persons profile, with bio and pictures. If you read/see something you like, then you have the options to “like” their picture, or send them an email. Now most emails follow the normal pathway of “Hi, how are you?”, or “ Hello. How was your weekend?” But then you’ve got the ones that veer off that path ever so slightly for example “ You’re pretty sexy and cool too. What’s up? Why are you single? Is something wrong with you?”, to another email where a guy wrote me a poem that is too long and TOO weird to send it out into blog land.

I do have to ask my guy readers out there something. What IS IT with immediately (and I mean within 2-3 initial contact emails), mentioning the size or prowess of your…..”member”, “friend”, whatever the heck you call it. Seriously. I haven’t even MET you, and your giving me information I REALLY DO NOT want to know. Like the most recent one that spurred me on to write this. Nice bio, nice pictures, looked really good on paper. He starts a conversation thread with me, and is telling me about himself and his day. Normal so far. And THEN it takes a slight turn. He lets me know he is getting in to his hot tub, and has given the neighbor a free “show”. Ok…..relatively harmless. I “LoL” in response. And then within a few minutes, he makes reference to the fact that he wasn’t in the hot tub any more, because he had to go play with his hog! Yup. You read it right. Now…..for those of you that know me, you can probably imagine the dialogue going on in me head. Hog…..ok, is he talking about his pet miniature pig? Because people DO have them. Or is it his Harley Davidson…..people call them hogs right???? Wrong. On both counts. You got it. He goes on to tell me what “playing with his hog” meant……and don’t worry. I won’t go in to any details. Needless to say THAT conversation was cut VERY short. I was going to make reference to his “hog” and “short”……but I’ll refrain from that. I’m too much of a lady!!!! LMArseO! But SERIOUSLY guys……is this normal????? I think I’m a WEE bit rusting at this dating thing if it is.

And I can’t finish this blog without referencing the other “interesting” email I got a few months ago. Again……great bio, great job, great pictures. Looked like a nice man. Sounded like a normal guy in the first 2-3 emails. And then he’s like…..”I like my women with long hair. Would you consider growing you hair long for me???” Christ on a bike……are ya serious. He had the cheek to say that, and he hadn’t even MET me! You can again imagine the dialogue in my head in response to THAT! But instead of totally letting him bare the brunt of me Irish temper……I politely told him, that if he didn’t like me with salt and pepper SHORT hair and all, then he wasn’t the man for me. Eejitt!

Yup. Dating at 50 is a LOT more challenging than when I was 20 or 30. But, I will persevere. I will NOT give up. And I WILL keep you posted on my dating shenanigans and malarkey……because let’s face it, it CAN be VERY humorous!

To be continued…..

Cancerversary……yes, there is such a thing

Cancerversary , like a cancer experience, is unique. It is a milestone defined by you. It could be the day that a loved one was diagnosed. It might be your own last day of treatment. Or it might be several important dates that occur throughout someone’s cancer journey.

I’m on the last day of several that have caused me some angst this year. And they probably will for some years to come. April 21st, 22nd, and 23rd will ALWAYS stand out in my mind, as the days leading up to one of the most challenging of my life. Not THE most challenging (because I’ve had worse), but it’s definitely up there in the challenging scale. On a scale of 0 to 10……we are talking about a 7. My family dropping off like flies, that’s a 10. My husband divorcing me (at the same time as my house renovation was going on), that’s a 9. I guess, because of all those other challenges, cancer was a WEE bit easier for me to handle.

April 21st, 2015 I found my lump, or more accurately, my lump found me. Jumped right out at me when I went to free the girls at the end of a trying day. Wasn’t there in the morning when I put me bra on. April 22nd, was the day I got in to see my surgeon. I remember seeing her face when she examined me. I think we both knew it wasn’t just my “usual” cysts, as she performed a biopsy in her office. April 23rd, was the day she called me with the results. It didn’t come as a surprise. I think instinctively my body and mind knew, and were preparing to go in to fight mode. I remember her voice, and how very sad she sounded as she gave me the news. I actually felt worse for her than I did for myself. She had done EVERYTHING possible over the years that she had been monitoring my lumpy, bumpy, cyst filled Boobs, to NOT let me get to this moment. I wanted to reach down the phone, and hold her hand to let her know that this, this devastating news, did not break me. We formulated a plan for me to come in the next morning (even though it was her day off), and we would come up with my plan of care.

I also remember the feeling’s and thoughts that swept over me when I put down the phone and sat in my kitchen, alone. I believe the words “OH fuck” popped in to my mind first. Actually it was more like “FUCK, fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Then, it was like a sucker punch to me guts……how am I going to tell Sean that yet another sibling is so very sick. Now THAT almost broke me. Backstory for those who don’t already know, parents….dead. Brother, Gabriel…..dead of a heart attack at 44. Sister, Stephanie…..dead of a diabetic coma at 53 (after surviving a breast cancer diagnosis at 50). Brother, Stephen…..barely alive after being on life support in January of 2015. You get the picture, right. But the thing was, my brother Sean had JUST left Ireland for a 4 day vacation to France with one of my cousins. And I sure as shite, was NOT going to ruin that for him. My cancer would still be there on Monday when he got home. And I would have a concrete plan of action by then also. So, I waited until then to tell him.

In the meantime, as I sat there with my thoughts and my kitty cat, I knew I needed my friends. I knew I couldn’t bare the burden of this news alone. So my friends Chandra, Stephanie, and Tamara came to my home and “circled the wagons” so to speak. They wrapped me in as much love and comfort as they could. I’m not sure they know how MUCH that meant to me. I needed them SO VERY much that night. And as always. They were there for me. As was my friend Dave and his new girlfriend Jen, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer the year before me. I called Dave to let him know the news, and even though I had not met Jennifer, she wanted to come with me to my Drs appointment the next day, to help me navigate through all the information that would be coming at me. Her act of kindness is what has inspired me to reach out to newly diagnosed women……to be their “Jennifer” at such a devastating time. To pay it forward to the breast cancer community.

I’m writing this blog post at approximately 3am. Sleep has eluded me over the past 3 days, but I know it will get better once Tuesday comes. In the meantime, I will sit with the pain (as the Buddhists teach), because trying to deny its existence will make it come out sideways. I won’t wallow in it. I’ll just let it wash over me, and then continue my journey forward. So if you happen to see me today, and I’m slightly out of sorts, a hug would be appreciated. But just knowing that my tribe has always had my back through this shit storm…….that’s been priceless. And healing. And what’s given me the strength to get through it.

I think I might be able to get some sleep now……maybe.

Menopause ain’t for sissies….

Holy crap….it happened again!! Not AS bad as the first time….but still disconcerting none the less. And in the bloody car AGAIN! I just got the heating fixed today. Should have left if stuck on arctic freeze instead!!

Figured this would be an appropriate time to share the FB post I wrote about the first time I experienced one of the joys of being a woman, to the people out in Blog land. Enjoy 🤔😳😂

So….a funny thing happened to me on me way to work this morning. Not funny “ha ha”, but funny “weird”! There I was, driving along, minding me own business, when all of a sudden…..me ears are on FIRE!! I mean….hot enough to fry a bloody egg..on fire 🔥!!! And I’m thinking…WTFeck! Am I having a reaction to my cancer fighting drug Tamoxifen (cause that’s the only medicine I’m taking).?? And that makes me panic slightly because then I’m up Shite creek without a paddle…or a way to fight my cancer. 😳😳 So I get to work, and start to take off me jacket & gloves (‘cause of course it’s cold enough outside to freeze the balls off a brass monkey 🐒), and I recoil in fear and slight disgust at what I’m seeing in front of me!! I have this “rash” spreading up from me hands towards me shoulders 😳. So now I’m thinking….Christ on a bike…..What. The. Feck. Is. Going. On!!!!! I solicit an opinion from my nice coworker….who upon taking one look at me….ever so briefly….steps back away from me. Which I don’t blame her…..because I looked slightly hideous. Or contagious. Or a combo of both 🤔. So….I’ll try to cut this ramble short, and say I made an appointment with a wonderful nurse practitioner in the clinic where I was working. But by the time I got in to see her…..my hideous bubonic plague like “rash”, had subsided to a rosy glow. Kind of like when you have something wrong with your car, and you go and tell the mechanic “there’s a clunk & a rattle”, and they look at you like you have ten heads and say “yah….right!” And the car behaves perfectly FINE for him. That’s how it was for me. BUT….we think we figured it out. It was most likely NOT a bad reaction to my cancer fighting drug (thank the Sweet Jesus!!!! 🙏🏻), but more likely a side effect of it…..my first HOT fecking FLASH!!! Welcome to almost 50 Cora!!!! Me Mum never told me about THIS!!! 😩 SO….if you are in my company, and all of a sudden me ears are glowing and hot enough to warm your hands on a cold day, and I develop a rash that spreads from my hands up to my shoulders….DO NOT BE ALARMED!!! Do not run in the opposite direction fearing for YOUR skins integrity. I am NOT contagious. I’m just having a fecking HOT FLASH with accompanying HEAT RASH!!😡#welcometomenopause #sideeffectsofcancertreatmentscansuck #thejoysofbeingawoman

Ps…..not sure this post will help my dating prospects too much….what do you think. LMArseO. 🤔🤔🤣🤣

Carry on tribe. Hope you are having a lovely evening. I’llshut up now 😜💞

Concert for a cause

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on me blog….so I thought I’d better get me arse in gear and post SOMETHING. My life has settled back in to the mundane, (but good), activities of daily life. But every now and then, something a wee bit more exciting than lugging in more wood, or brushing my pussy (cat 🤣), happens. Tonight was one of those nights. My good friend Jeni, asked myself and my other wicked good friend Brooke, to speak our truth at Concert for a Cause being held at the Collins Center for the Arts in UMO. My first thought was….oh Shite. That’s a BIG venue. LOT’s of people can fit in there. But my second thought was…..what an honor to be asked to do this. So we did it. Along with Jeni, Gert, Brooke, and Katie, we all told our stories of navigating through this cancer journey. Those guys KNOCKED it out of the park with their speeches. Me….I think I may had at least hit it into the back field. Each time I do something like this, I feel like I am getting a wee bit better every time. I will NEVER be a natural up in front of people or cameras…..but I’m becoming more comfortable with each opportunity I’m given.

So I thought I would post my speech from tonight. I have to preface this by telling you what I told the audience at the concert. I told them I wanted to try to channel my inner Seanchai or Irish story teller, by telling them MY story in the form of A STORY. I said….sit back, relax, and hopefully I won’t bore you to tears, or put you to sleep. Plus….why the Feck is it when you get up to speak in front of a crowd, your bloody salivary glands quit working! Seriously. Talk about cotton mouth…..and of course no water in sight. Seriously. Anyways….here is the speech. For what it’s worth. 😊

Once upon a time, there was a girl from Galway. She grew up the youngest of five children, in a loving home. Life followed its usual path from childhood to young adult, with all the “normal” challenges and joys of teenage years…. angst and insecurities thrown in for good measure. But young adulthood put this Galway girl to the test. Losing her Mum, moving to America, getting married, getting divorced all in her twenties….well as they say, what won’t kill you, makes you stronger. And it did. Thankfully! Because the decade prior to her diagnosis, delivered even more challenges. Ones that could rock your foundation, if you let it.

But SHE didn’t. This Galway girl used each devastating loss to build herself up, and to NOT let these challenges tear her down. Now, I could list the losses that she had, but then it would end up sounding like an Irish ballad, or a bad country song. So let’s just say, what she learned in dealing with these significant challenges, prepared her for the day she heard the words…..”it’s cancer”. Instead of saying “Why me?”, she responded “Why not me”.

Bare with me folks….we’re getting to the feel good part very soon.

So this Galway girl got diagnosed with pretty invasive, and aggressive breast cancer at the age of 47 (which really makes her a Galway middle aged woman, but that doesn’t sound half as good as Galway girl ;-)) And her attitude was that of a Celtic Warrior. She had the fight within her, with the humor that is inherent and genetic to the Irish. Plus she had a tribe that ALWAYS had her back.

And in the three years since she heard those words, she took what she had learned dealing with her previous challenges and losses……and she went out in to the world to help others going through the same storm she was going through. And here’s the feel good part people …..it’s what made her an improved version of herself. It’s what “FILLED her up” and helped HER get through the storm. What made her feel good, was the act of helping others to feel good, to feel cared for, and to never feel alone.

This Galway girl went WAY beyond her comfort zone, and put herself out into social media, on to TV, into calendars celebrating women who have gone through breast cancer, reconstruction and all the treatments in between. She ran and biked to raise money for research and free services for the cancer community. She even stood in front of large groups and told her story……which terrified her. Not the story, but the standing up in front of people part. All to inspire, as she had been inspired by other amazing women she followed in real life and on social media. You see….this Galway girl learned that when women get together, amazing and inspirational things can happen. Not that guys aren’t brilliant either. Because you are. And let’s remember, 1% of males get breast cancer too, so dudes…..check your pecs. But 1 in 8 women will receive a BC diagnosis, and of those, 1 in 3 will have it metastasize. These are not feel good numbers, but they are a fact. And the feel good part, is that we talk about it. We educate about it. As the Buddy2Buddy camping slogan states “We encourage all women to take control of their own breast health, and inspire their buddies to do the same”. The feel good part is that we come together as a community, to raise awareness and money for research and services……like we are tonight.

And because this Seanchai (Gaelic for an Irish Storyteller) could go on forever…..I will try to sum this story up. Within our lives, we are given challenges. We can face those, or we can run screaming in the opposite direction. It’s our choice. And it’s also our choice in how we handle those challenges. How we FIND the silver linings. How we see the humor in hard situations, and use that humor to get us (and those around us) through the Shite storm. That’s the feel good part of this story. Our Galway girl feels good when she can make another person laugh, feel supported and give them strength to get through THEIR storm. Cancer did not define HER. She defined IT. Throughout this journey, this Galway Girl has learned that she is the strongest woman that she knows.

Her story is still evolving. This is but a chapter in her life. This is certainly NOT the end.

To be continued……

I am woman, hear me roar….

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and I wanted to recognize two of the women who have had an impact and major influence on my life. The first of course, is me Mum. Without her, I would not have become the person I am today. I only had her guidance and love for twenty years, but what I got from her in those years, was a solid foundation on which I have built my life story. She had a quiet elegance and grace about her, and an even quieter strength that could rival Hercules. Mum suffered from emphysema for over thirteen years, slowly suffocating and always gasping for air, images that will never leave my memory. But an even stronger memory is HOW she responded to this horrible way to live (and die). She did it with such grace. With humor. And she NEVER complained. Two days before she passed away, her cousins came to visit her at our home. There was Mum, all 90lbs of her, propped up by a zillion pillows because she didn’t have the energy to hold herself up. And when her cousin asked her “How are you Teresa?”, my Mum answered in between the gasps for air and the sound of the oxygen machine…..”Not too bad. Not too bad”. And then she asked them for a cigarette……God love her, she was SO addicted to those bloody things, that they killed her at the young age of 63. A couple of months prior to that day, I had an argument with me Mum about her smoking……giving out to her for smoking herself in this position. And her response to me was….”Oh pet…..the damage is done. Don’t be mad at me. The damage is done”. You see, she wasn’t angry. She understood she had made decisions that were not healthy, and that she was not going to live to watch me walk down the isle, or see her grandchildren be born (my brothers kids. This chick did not pop any kids out!! 😳). She accepted her fate, never laid blame and made the best of the time she had with her family and friends. Lessons I feel I have learned from her, and try my best to put in to practice. I do it as a way to honor my Mum. I am SO grateful to have had her as a mother, and consider myself the most fortunate daughter to have had her as a role model to know what goodness, kindness and strength looked like. You were the best Mum, and I still miss you every day.

Now on to the other woman in my life, who showed me the way to live life the way I do. My sister Stephanie. Oh how we fought like cats and dogs when we were younger! Christ on a bike, I used to NOT like her much in my teenage years. See….Stephanie was my only sister, TEN years older than me and a complete and utter PERFECTIONIST…..which I am NOT. Well, not much. Not as much as her. She was a neat freak, and when Stephanie cleaned, you could eat off the floor. When she hoovered (vacuumed), every piece of furniture was moved. Me……I hoovered AROUND stuff…..used to drive her fecking NUTS! She would argue with me, and I would give out to Mum about her. Mum would sit and listen, and smoke a cigarette. And then she would help us make peace, somehow, so that we all would eventually be sitting down having a cup of tea. Which of course Stephanie had to clean up immediately after the last drop was drunk or drank…..whichever 🙄🤔. I moved away from Ireland in my late teen, and eventually grew up. Steph and I over the years became closer, and realized that despite our differences, we loved each other very much. Stephanie was one of THE most caring people I’ve ever known, and so loved by her family, friends and coworkers. And she was FUNNY! She loved to laugh and to make others laugh. When she passed away at the age of 53, the church was packed to the gills, and the road from the church towards the route to the cemetery was lined with her coworkers from the hospital she worked at. They stood on either side, with black arm bands on in honor of my sister, and of how much she brought to their lives. Doctors, nurses and orderly’s alike……I think most of the hospital staff were there…..not sure who was looking after the patients. 😬. Stephanie taught me to find the joy in the little things in life, and also the value of family. We, my three brothers and I, meant everything to Stephanie. She was our big sister and she always took care of us. I still wish I could call you on a Saturday morning like I did for so many years, and shoot the shite about our week.

Both my Mum and my sister have been with me over these past three years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of that I have NO doubts. And the lessons they have taught me will carry me through any challenges that life has to bring. We all have women in our lives that lift us up. Let’s honor them by paying it forward. When women unite, great things can happen. 💕

Ink’d for a cause……

Yikes! That smarted! 😬. I realized after FOUR hours of tiny needle pricks penetrating into the epidermal and dermal layers of my skin, that contrary to the belief that you lose your sensation after a mastectomy…….you actually fecking don’t! Not fully anyway. Which is good news in general……but NOT good news for getting a large tattoo which requires lots of work. And LOTS of needle pricks. Which you FEEL ever last one.😳. BUT having said that (or complained and whined me arse off more like)……it still was SO worth it. Because through the fog of pain, comes the beauty of the art. I am no longer a patchwork of scars. I am a beautiful canvas on which lies said work of art. After seeing an Instagram picture of the finished outline, my brother Sean put it as only an Irishman can, regarding Katie Dube my tattoo artist…..and I quote….”Christ that’s brilliant. She must be gifted!”

And she is. Not just in her ability to apply her skill with her artwork; but also in her ability to connect with her subject or client. She is professional, empathetic and has that most needed quality of making you feel safe in her hands. In choosing Katie, I looked at the bigger picture. I not only saw her being a great match for me, I saw her as the perfect person for other women in this area who may choose to go this same route in their own healing from a mastectomy. She has intimate knowledge of breast cancer from her family history, and is therefore a wonderful resource for the breast cancer community in this area.

My job for the next few weeks is to heal. And then the coloring and shading part of this process will begin (which may take a few sessions). My friend and professional photographer Danielle Pease is documenting the before, during, and after in photographs. To see myself through HER eyes, and HER lens has been empowering. I am honored that she wanted to follow me through this part of my journey, and can not WAIT to show you her images! Once I am finished, and healed, we will show what surviving breast cancer can look like to the world. Or at least to whom ever wants to see. 🙄😬 Also……thanks to Brooke and Sue for schlepping all the way down from Bangor to be my cheerleaders and support system. Love you both to bits. 💕💕

As I am slightly addicted to social media ( first step to recovery is owning it right…🤔🤣), I have posted a picture on Instagram. Sorry Dani……couldn’t help meself 😳. I will attempt to post said picture in my blog…….but since I am still a wee bit shite with anything more than the writing of the bog posts (not saying I’m any better at those either mind you)…….there’s a very good chance I’ll screw it up.

Stay tuned for more installments in Tats for Ta-ta’s…….