A dose of self improvement

First, a quick announcement. Charlotte Huff has written an excellent article about the relationship between stigma and cancer for the online magazine Slate. I had the pleasure of being interviewed for this piece; if you’ve not already done so, please give it a read:  A Sick Stigma.

Back to my roots

Back to my roots

Alrighty then. I just wasted I don’t know how much time trying to take a selfie and in the process discovered that lighting is key; dimly lit fluorescent is far kinder than accentuate-every-wrinkle natural light. And although my iPhone is perhaps not quite as truthful, it is infinitely more forgiving than my little leica.

Appearances aside, the point of this exercise was not to demonstate how clean my nails are but rather to show off some new blonde highlights and freshly waxed eyebrows. Yes, it’s true; I’ve rendered myself high maintenance. And Tiffany (from Supercuts), I am sorry, but my heart now belongs to Oksana.

This rash of self improvement all started with the removal of a varicose vein on my right leg. As a cancer patient, I am at greater risk of developing blood clots, and so lovenox, a blood thinner, is given prophylactically two days prior and for a month following the procedure. It is administered by injection and I chose to do this myself (in the stomach!). I got a bit woozy the first go around, but now it is no big deal.

Prep also included the wearing of thigh-high compression stockings (post-op as well) and slathering my right leg in a numbing cream before wrapping it in saran wrap two hours before each procedure. All very sexy (not). The procedure itself took place over three appointments:  Endovenous laser therapy (thermal ablation) followed by two sessions of surgical removal (ambulatory phlebectomy). Although it sounds terribly gruesome and possibly painful, it was neither. Easy-peasy actually, and I am so very glad I finally took care of something that made me self-conscious and which was uncomfortable to boot.

Simple but amazing tool

Simple but amazing tool

Of course, one additional perk was that I got to stay at the surgeon’s home in-between appointments, which gave me lots of Melinda/Kihan time. As usual, my dear friend Melinda took fantastic care of me. Upon seeing how much I struggled with putting on the compression stockings, she whisked me off to a medical supply store and then purchased the little gizmo on the left. The compression stocking is turned inside out and pulled down over the center section. You then place your foot through the opening, and grasping the handles on the side, pull up towards your thigh. Ingenious!

9 responses to “A dose of self improvement

  1. Great Slate article! The did you/do you smoke question has been there. Sending my sister the article. She has Adenocarcinoma III B Wet and did not smoke. Looking forward to talking over the stigma angle of cancer with her; something we need to discuss if it has bothered her and I didn’t notice.

    • Mary, glad you enjoyed the article—Charlotte did a great job. And it should be an interesting conversation with your sister.


  2. Great article! Already shared this important message featuring an interview with my most famous friend on FB!

  3. Linnea, great article in Slate. Much needed. Self improvement is always a worthy challenge, mustn’t forget about that. It is so easy to slide downhill during times of stress. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • Hedy, I think it is pretty easy to put personal maintenance on the back burner, particularly, as you say, during times of stress. Taking care of things and even a little pampering (I loved having my hair shampooed by someone else!) can feel pretty darn huge. I hope you are remembering to take care of yourself….


  4. Thanks for sharing the Slate article.
    I’m glad you had the procedure. Funny, but I have something more of a plastic surgery procedure that I’d love to do a) if I’m ever healthy enough, 2) stop steroids again, and c) do everything else on my Frog List! Okay, it’ll never happen, but even the most practical are allowed a silly, vein wish. (Mine isn’t painful like yours.)
    Anyway, I soon must wear pantyhose for the first time in years. That little device of yours looks handy, indeed!

    • Jessica, never say never! I waited ten years to fix that darn varicose vein; it was put ‘on hold’ so many times. Put your procedure on your list anyway. Sometimes just our ‘intent’ feels like an accomplishment. And I too have a tendency to preface major plans with an ‘if I live’—I get it. But, for the moment, let’s just assume that we will. You are tough, tenacious and although I know you just got disappointing news ( 😦 ), giving cancer a real run for its money. Stay strong and optimistic.


  5. Pingback: 60 Top Cancer Blogs for Advice, Support and Inspiration | Del Immune V

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