Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

In A Rush

Yes, I should be writing the second part of sleeve cap knitting, but today has been crazy and I am running late.

The cold weather has returned. I read a number of blogs whose bloggers reside in England and Scotland. From their pictures Spring has most certainly arrived there, but not here. Snow still covers patches of ground, but the garden is snow free. I am trying to find organic grass seed at the local stores. Chemicals mixed with grass seed galore, no organic grass seed in sight.

The areas I dug out earlier this winter for Yarn Rascal are really showing up with the snow almost gone. Truly, the yard looks like a treasure hunt gone very wrong. While I know The Skipper likes his grass, I don’t want chemicals on the lawn. Also I know the birds are going to eat the seed once I put it down, so I want it to be natural and organic for them too. Between the amount the birds will eat and the territory I have to cover, frankly I need a ton of seed.

On a positive note, my MRI showed no further breast cancer. I celebrated with a shopping spree. I hit the craft store for me, the pet store for Yarn Rascal (2 new toys and he’s already destroyed one) and for The Skipper I made up for no grass seed with a freshly made organic carrot cake, his favorite dessert. When at first you don’t succeed buy them their favorite cake.

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I have completed the Spring Sweater and I have to say I love it, love it, love it.

spring sweater knit bamtastic

It is all that I was looking for in a sweater and more. From the moment the designer, Jenny Snedeker put out the call for test knitters on Ravelry, I knew I had to make this sweater. I don’t do test knits because I am a process knitter and working on a test knit with a deadline for completion is very stressful to me. The women who do test knitting and sample knitting have my utmost respect. But I had to have this sweater in the same way I have to have air to breathe.

Knitting this sweater changed my life. It’s one of the things I love about knitting, it makes me realize things about life and about me that I would not otherwise see. And this sweater did just that. It changed my way of living and I didn’t even know it needed changing.

It’s been just over a year since my mastectomy. For a year, hospitals, medical tests, surgery, drains, radiation, and doctor appointments ruled my life and the clothes I wore changed.

When I walked into the hospital at 6 am on the day of my surgery I was wearing a feminine lace bra under a shirt that had picot trim and a light overall lace pattern, jeans, my hand knitted lace socks, and clogs. When I walked out of the hospital the next day, I was wearing a man’s XXL long sleeve shirt and beneath it a surgical bra stuffed with cotton gauze pads where my breast used to be and a drain. I didn’t want anyone to look at me and this feeling is why my wardrobe change began. I acquired men’s XXL shirts from The Skipper’s closet. The bigger the shirt, the better I hid inside of it.

In order to have something to wear, The Skipper bought new shirts for himself. It was the beginning of Spring and I was in radiation treatment, still unable to wear a bra and with only one breast his new shirts became my new shirts and into my closet they went with all the other shirts I had appropriated from him. The lacy, feminine clothing I used to wear slowly and in an unnoticeable way began to be pushed to the side of the closet with the other clothes I never wore.

Finally I was given the okay and fitted for a prosthesis and special bras. Nothing changed, I still hid inside the big shirts. I felt comfortable and invisible in them now. No one would be able to tell what happened to me because I disappeared inside all the fabric. The Skipper bought more new shirts and I kept taking them.

It was knitting the sweater that changed all that. I had completed half the back when I realized that I needed to take some measurements of my body to adjust the fit. That’s when one realization followed another like a set of waves rolling into shore. I had to stop hiding inside The Skipper’s clothing. I had to take a rather big step and start wearing the feminine type of clothing I used to love to wear.

The day I completed this sweater and tried it on was filled with emotion. It was the first time in a year that I would put on something feminine and slightly fitted. There would be no place for me to hide in this knit.

spring sweater knit selfie

spring sweater knit sleeve bamtastic

Standing in front of the mirror wearing this sweater I felt pretty, I felt feminine, and I felt wonderful. This is so much more than just a hand knit sweater to me. It’s returned to me all that I allowed cancer to take away. Thank you Jenny for designing this. Thank you Ravelry for existing so I could find this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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I passed my mammogram today! Tuesday I get an MRI just to make sure there is no cancer lurking where the mammogram can’t find it, but for the first time in over a year I am actually letting myself believe that I may be cancer free and feeling what that is like. It’s almost electric. If everything wasn’t frozen solid with ice and snow, I’d run out and hug my favorite trees, but I can’t get to them.

When I learned a year ago I had breast cancer the first thing I did was make myself something that would remind me to Believe.

believe heart

I found the pattern on Lucy’s blog Attic 24. And this became my Believe heart. Believe that I could get through the operation. Believe that I could get through treatment one day at a time. Believe that some day I might hear the words cancer free.

Today I Believe.

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Right now I am trying to find balance between my tech editing work, my design work, and knitted work. In between I need to find time for The Skipper and of course, time for Yarn Rascal. The latter demands most of my time. His deviant behavior is on the rise and I don’t want him to be a life-long criminal. Thus, while he is still in the formative period he is getting a good portion of my attention.

One of the tech editing projects is a Raglan sweater. Personally, I dislike Raglans. I don’t like their fit. I disliked them even more when I found the back story of their development. A lesser noble, named Raglan, was in the British service and lost one arm in the Crimean War. His tailor created the Raglan to better accommodate the loss. Thus a sweater constructed for a one-armed individual found its way into fashion for two-armed individuals.

The pattern I am editing is a three act drama. Act One opens with sketchy information concerning color changes and a ribbing pattern. Act Two begins with the realization that the Raglan shaping at the armholes for the Back and Front don’t match, and they must. Act Three starts with incomplete sleeve directions. Beyond the wrist Cast On no other directions exist. In all fairness, this is a vintage pattern I am piecing together, meaning I must recreate the missing information because it really no longer exists. Completing this pattern is the focus of my weekend.

In the meanwhile, I need to knit the second of the Cursed Socks, create a swatch for a lacy pair of bed socks that exists only on the drawing board at the moment, work out the elements of the All Little Boy sweater that is also on the drawing board, and find time to knit on the Shetland Baby Shawl. I’ll have a progress picture of the shawl posted next week.

The good news I received this week from the doctors is that the blood tests showed nothing concerning my tiredness. My cancer surgeon is happy with the way I am healing. She wants me to participate in a study about the roles exercise and diet may have in lowering the chances of breast cancer coming back. I’m not quite a year from my operation last January. This time February will be the big month for me. I have a mammogram, ultra sound, and MRI scheduled to see how things are going. The time in between is kind of like the Edgar A. Poe story The Pit and The Pendulum.

Yarn Rascal has just left my side. By the curl of his tail I can tell he’s thinking of getting into trouble.

Have a good weekend.

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The weekend was restful even with Yarn Rascal in full Yarn Rascal mode. Autumn in this area of the world has decided to wear pastel colors this year.

autumn 5

Leaves the color of fire’s flame so bright you’d think the hills were burning are not with us this year.

autumn 6

Intensity gives way to toned down color and only comes to life with the sun shining behind.

autumn 2

autumn 3

Though the Japanese Maples seem to remember what Autumn once looked like.

autumn 4

The Shetland Lace Swatch grows.

shetland lace

Like watching grass lengthen, isn’t it? The pink yarn is the life line. I am sure that the bottom pattern will be the large border even though I have only knitted 85 rows of the 135 plus that make up that border. Above the life line I am sampling break patterns, fill-ins, elements for smaller borders, and patterns for the center. When I am done with what I am now looking at as a sampler, I will pick-up stitches along the edges and try out various edgings to see what I like. I am really enjoying the swatching process. I would never have thought I’d say that.

I’d like to include the Cat’s Paw and/or the Rosebud motif somewhere in the shawl. If I do, then I need to also include some eyelet motifs elsewhere to balance things. I am also leaning toward small trees and/or ferns designed to echo the diamond pattern so prevalent in the large border. The problem with trees and ferns is that they are directional. They have distinct tops and bottoms. If I include them, I will have to rethink my borders out design and look to the traditional way of putting the shawl together: sewing / grafting it all together. But let me not panic now. It’s too early in the design process to run around with my hair on fire.

Good news! The Skipper is wood working again. He is spending time in his two man caves: the basement and garage. I, on the other hand, have ordered the final book I wanted on Shetland Lace called A Legacy of Shetland Lace. I could just squeal with delight!

The last bit of info I want to share happened to me Friday and I want to pass it along to other women who might be going through or know women who are going through breast cancer stuff. I went to the dentist on Friday. It seems that when a woman receives breast cancer treatment one of the things that takes a negative hit is saliva. That’s right, the much under rated, never thought about, spit in our mouths. Saliva is crucial to teeth and gum health. It provides much needed calcium and other enzymes that teeth and gums need to counteract the bacteria, plaque, etc. Cancer treatment significantly reduces the amount of saliva produced and wipes clean what little is left of the calcium and enzymes needed to maintain dental health. Say hello to root canal work. The R and C words when put together are in the top 5 of the least favorite words I want to hear. If you are going through breast cancer, see your dentist and start an oral hygiene routine that will help women like us avoid expensive dentistry while keeping our mouth and teeth healthy.

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Wake to sound of dog retching.

Start day over. In kitchen, get ready to have breakfast. Suddenly hear dog crunching and know nothing he normally eats would sound like that. Whip head around, pull neck muscle, pour cereal onto counter instead of into bowl.

Move to living room. Pick up remote, press button to turn on television. Notice popping sound, bright flash across screen, followed by burning smell. Rip all wires out of back of non-working tv to prevent fire.

See dog steal disconnected USB cord. Chase to retrieve cord before dog eats that too. Count this as the day’s aerobic exercise.

Lay out clothes to wear. Get ready to shower, step over child safety gate that keeps dog out of bathroom so he doesn’t dig up more tile and eat the grout, flick on bathroom light, light bulb blows out.

Find ladder. Find correct light bulb. Realize day is getting away from me. Feel pressure start to build.

Step out of shower and while drying off see expensive mastectomy bra lying in hallway. In fear that dog has destroyed expensive breast prosthesis, attempt to hurdle over child safety gate without a running start to save what is left, knowing that even in high school hurdles were impossible to accomplish.

After making sure no bones are broken, realize dog only chewed tag off bra. Feel luck changing.

Ready and dressed decide to venture forth and buy replacement for tv and camera.

Sit in traffic.

Begin to understand the universe is not with me today.

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She cried fit to break her heart; her ringlets fell over her face…
“So the rascal ran off, eh?” Sir Pitt said….
Vanity Fair
William Makepeace Thackeray

As an animal lover, I have had many dogs, cats and other animals grace my life. Yet in all my 57 years, I have never had one that enjoyed indeed relished destroying yarn. Randi “Little Feet” James—sounds like the name of an outlaw doesn’t it— is the yarn rascal of all time.


Randi is a much wanted and much loved 6-month-old all-little boy bichon. I lost my bichon Sport when he was 16 years old. Sport was a gift to me from my husband who was dying and didn’t want me to be alone. I grieved terribly when Sport died. When Sport was five, I got another dog, Dakota, a pointer-Labrador mix. She was a delight: soft, sweet, obedient. She missed Sport when he died.

Within a month after Sport passed, both my 80 year-old parents took ill. They ended up in two different hospitals, one in the CCU the other in another hospital in the ICU. It was hectic. It was hard. I was deep in grief. My parents made it through and today are back home happily doing what they enjoy.

Within months of getting my parents back home, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Still grieving Sport, Dakota falls ill. After my mastectomy, in the middle of my radiation treatments, Dakota dies. That was it for me.

Radiation treatment was taking its toll and I still had a long way to go. I remember the day I went to my radiation oncologist and told her I wanted to stop treatment even though it meant my cancer had a 98% chance of reoccurring. I cried and told her about Sport, my parents, and now my dear Dakota. How I felt I just couldn’t do it anymore.

My radiation oncologist is a wonderful person and an awesome doctor. She listened. She heard me. She understood. She said, “For heaven’s sake, please get a dog.” I took my radiation treatment that day, came home, told The Skipper what the doctor said and within one week we had Randi.

I finished my radiation treatments. The joy, love, laughter, and yes, exasperation Randi brings is pure heaven. Randi is truly the MOST WANTED DOG.


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