C h e c k l i s t

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          ☑ Chemotherapy
          ☑ Surgery
          ☑ Radiation
          Maintenance Therapy
                     ☑  Herceptin
                     ☐  Anti-Hormonal Treatment

November 17, 2010

Giving Thanks.

We have been hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for a few years now. Dinar and I love this holiday and love Fall (we got married in Fall). Now that Vikram, Zarina, and Zyra are in the same town, we all love celebrating it together with our close friends and family.
Last Thanksgiving was a lot of fun and our house was full of people we love. And the food we LOVE:)In the midst of all the celebrations, I had felt the lump in my breast while nursing Sahy. I remember thinking "shoot I am getting mastitis (tmi warning: infected plugged duct), AGAIN!." I decided to wait until after the holiday spirit had settled down to think about it again let alone get it checked.
I cannot believe it is that time of the year again and I have so many mixed feelings about this approaching holiday. Is this my 1st cancerversary? or January 13th is? January 13th is the day I got the phone call from my breast surgeon. I remember saying to him "Dr. Boobiepoker, tell me you have good news for me" and then I heard him clear his throat. The worst thing about that day was that I was at my desk with my back to Juliana (my officemate at that time). I felt so numb after that call. I had to get up and walk around in the hallways. And the next thing I know is that I go and tell Val (my coworker) that I have breast cancer and just stand by her cubicle, numb. So is that the day that I should consider my cancerversary? May be so, because I was still leading a normal life up until then. My hair was so long, I was almost back to my "good" weight after delivery, things were easing up with a new baby and I remember saying to myself "hmmm this is probably the best phase of my life. I love my 30s. I feel so comfy in my skin."
YEAH RIGHT!
I dont know if I am a changed person today. May be I am. But I know there are several people in my life who changed their roles in my life. I know there are people that I never even thought would be there for me showed up and held my hand and told me it was going to be okay and "were there" for me. I would never be able to list the wonderful people in my life who have given me love, compassion, and cared for me this year. They are too many of you! And I am very lucky and honored to have all of you in my life. I could not do this without my army of friends and family, Dr. Kimberly Blackwell, Dr. Rachel Blitzblau, Dr. Randall Scheri, NP Joan Cahill, NP Erin Duff, Nurse Charlene Maxwell, Chemo Nurse Amy (who throws punches in the air every time she sees me :)) and a zillion other medical staff at Duke. I am also grateful for a great medical insurance. Thanks RTI International for offering amazing medical benefits. I am in many ways an exception and I know sisters who struggle with getting good familial and medical support. That is why I dont take what I have for granted. All I want to say today is "THANK YOU".
Love the holidays.Live to celebrate.Laugh plenty with your friends and family.
Happy Turkey Day!

Bela.

November 8, 2010

What is Diwali?

A few years ago a coworker asked me if I was going to go home for Christmas. I politely replied no, but she started feeling extremely sorry for me and then it was time for me to break the news to her. I told her that I was not a Christian and did not celebrate Christmas traditionally, but did so in spirit. She seemed extremely confused and asked me if I celebrated Hannukah. I said no, I am not Jewish either. Then she asked me what about Kwaanza? At that time I had to look up what Kwaanza stood for. A relatively new holiday that was created by African Americans to celebrate their African Heritage. I replied "no", I am Hindu by birth and celebrate Hindu Holidays and we have lots and lots of them. I go on to say that Diwali comes very close to Christmas in terms of festivities and celebrations. To that she asks the next question. What is Diwali? I dont remember exactly but I must have given her the whole spiel that it is celebrating the victory of the good over the evil by lighting oil lamps, bursting fire crackers, eating good food, wearing new clothes, and performing some traditional rituals such as celebrating the hindu new year, brother sister relationship etc. etc.

To me this year it meant a lot more. Ever since I have moved to the US, I let it slide, partake in some potluck dinner with friends and forget about it. But this year I felt like making a little more effort to celebrate it and make it special for Sahy. We will have a Christmas tree for Sahy, always. But I also want him to know that Diwali is part of his heriatge and the special place it has in the hearts of all Indians, regardless of their religion. It is afterall the celebration of the victory of the good over the evil. That is a pretty secular sentiment.

So my friends, that is what Diwali means to me. I have fond memories of Diwali. My father and grandfather buying lots of presents for our extended family and immediate family, all the sweets, and bhaubeej that I celebrated with my big brother. I love this festival the best. Some day I will celebrate Diwali in Pune again. Eat lots of Anarse. I love Anarse that my Vahini Aaji (mummy's mum) made. My Aaji was one of the best cooks I knew. It is so endearing when Dinar says the same thing about his Aaji. All Aajis are excellent cooks. :) They made them talented back then.

I also wore some jewelry that my mother gave me in my wedding. I thought to myself "what am I saving this for?". It was stowed away since my wedding day and I had not worn any of the wedding jewelry in the past 6 years of my married life. Of course with my short crop there is only so much I can pull off. But I am learning that each day is a celebration. You dont need to wait for a big occassion or reason to be merry and joyous.

November 5, 2010

Happy Diwali

Bela, Sahil and I will be celebrating Diwali this weekend, and Bela's preparations are in full swing. I will be putting up lights; Bela is making traditional Diwali sweets.
As things are returning to normalcy, we want to make an effort to take back out lives, and I think a Diwali celebration with family and friends will go a long way. So here's wishing everyone a Happy Diwali!