People who read my facebook page know that I got some good news regarding my latest scan. I will elaborate in another post, but essentially, all of my organs look normal and there don't appear to be any new metastases, and the ones I have currently are unchanged. There is some to-be-expected swelling in the area of treatment but essentially, I'm stable.
This, naturally, is incredibly good news. 2014 is THE year - it was the goal I set for myself when I found out I had mets. You all know I wanted to see my son graduate high school, which he will do this May - 3 years after my metastatic diagnosis. And, life continues to give us surprises. This year my stepdaughter is having a baby so my first grandchild will be born in March. I will have my 20th wedding anniversary in September. Of course, I want to be around for all of these special moments that mark our passage through life - and with this latest scan, it looks like that is a distinct
All of it.
I'm well aware I'm on the roller-coaster ride of my life, and when there is an up, there will be a down. This is an incurable illness and it is inevitable that the ride will change course. However, I have great hope that the down will not be for a while. Perjeta, Herceptin, and SBRT have been miraculous for me. And, they are new and nobody knows how long they could work. Maybe a decade, maybe 3 more months. But whatever it is, there is another therapy when this one stops working, and so 2014 - I can imagine my life all through this year
So, how to celebrate? A movie? Hard to get my boys to Frozen. A meal out? Still struggling with appetite. Champagne? I don't drink. Hmmm.....
To celebrate my news, to let me know she believes I have time, a wonderful friend of mine named Koryn sent me a darling 16 month calendar, which I promptly put up. Our family uses a calendar religiously - we all write what we have going on so that when we make plans we can take everybody's schedule into consideration. I was tempted to keep hers just for myself but as January came around and we were putting things on sticky notes, I shared.
I love office supplies, I love writing things down to be organized. Chemo has completely destroyed my short term memory so it HAS to go down on paper or it's gone. I have some old planners from my work days that I enjoy looking through - it's fun to see what I did when. It also helps when you scrapbook. And, I suddenly realized what I needed in addition to the family calendar - a day planner.
What says "I've got stuff to do and am going to live to do it" more than a personal planner?
So, which one to get? I wanted a nice one - if it falls apart than I'll start reading bad stuff into it, like I might have a bad scan or something (yeah, even the most practical person in the world can have superstitions), so it has to be strong. It has to have a ring binder so I can lay it flat in my scrapbooking desk (which is clear glass and I can see what's underneath). I wanted stickers and tabs. I started looking at them on YouTube and saw the Filofax, and the Daytimer, but they seemed a bit clunky. I don't want leather, or anything bulky.
Then I came across one by Erin Condren. And, my breath was taken away. They are insanely beautiful and something you can be proud to carry around or leave out in your house. More importantly, these life planners are customized. And, when I say customized, I mean it.
Check that out - not only are their covers laminated and strong, in this design you can choose your own words and phrases. As a cancer patient living with end-stage disease, I might choose words like "Now, Moment, Live, Thrive, Love, Intention" to remind me to live in the day. Somebody who had cancer treatment, completed it, and whose goal it to move past it emotionally may choose words that remind them to do that: "Health, Lifetime, Forward, Fearless, Survive, Courage" or whatever words remind you of what you want to achieve. You can never forget having had cancer, but you don't have to live in fear of relapse, so you can choose whatever words bring you strength and resolve.
It works for anything: if you are trying to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthy, use those words, "Clean, Exercise, Walk, Sunlight, Strength, Energy, Slim." If you are trying to quit smoking, "Fresh Air, Stop, Breathe, Unnecessary, Pure......" Those are just a few ideas but experts often suggest to write goals on sticky notes and put them where you can see them daily, such as on your bathroom mirror. You visualize it, think about it, distill it, break it down into achievable bits. Having a cover of a planner with words you see every single day that spur you to get what you want can only be helpful. Or, you can just put things you love there, as the person who designed the one above did. Family names, favorite places - anything.
But that is not the only cover. You can get patriotic ones, you can get a gerbera daisy (like my logo), there are chevrons, and flowers and many lovely designs, there is even a pink ribbon if you swing that way. You can add your own photo, or a collage of photos, you can pick your own colorway. You can select your first name, your monogram, your initials, whatever you like. For a bit more money, there is even a stunningly beautiful one with expensive gold letterpress that comes in four colors (this is turquoise):
But.....there's more. There are the life planners, which is what I want, but there are wedding planners, and teacher planners and college planners.
The stickers I wanted are there, 240 of them, everything from birthdays to mani/pedi. Even that is customizable - you can add on and select words to match regular events in your own life. For example, I will chose "chemo" "scan" "MUGA" "prescription refill" etc. (How exciting, eh?)
You can get photo stickers - lots of them. Put your mom/best friend/husband/dogs face on a sticker and put it on their birth date or any important even involving them.
The actual planner part is perfect for me. There is a month at a glance and then you have the week by week, but instead of every hour, it's divided into morning, afternoon, and evening, which is much handier for me who is not tied to the exact time, and whose handwriting is too big, I can never fit it on those little lines. There are plenty of places for notes and reminders and scribbles - it's 200 plus pages. There is a zip bag in the back for your pen and washi tape, and pockets for receipts. The planner is 7.25 x 9.25, which is a good size for purses and/or a desk.
A paper planner may seem strange to some, and even to those who know me, because I'm completely tied to my iPhone. But our family relies on that shared, posted calendar - we have never used the shared phone calendars because my husband is very non-techny and my teen wants privacy. So we keep a calendar in a central area of the house and use it. Other "old-fashioned" things I like include scrapbooking, writing things down, keeping track of goals and thoughts, and I adore office supplies, which I know is a strange thing to like, but as a former secretary, it is ingrained in me to believe that those sticky notes and special things will help you become organized. I cannot think of a more beautiful way to do this than with this Erin Condren planner.
I know this post sounds like a commercial but you all know I only do this when I truly love a product. (And I have a couple more exciting things to tell you about this year).
I know that all of my readers are going to love this as much as I do. I know a lot of you have had cancer or know people who have had cancer. I know that a lot of you are dealing with chemo-brain and struggling with the same things I am - how fleeting our thoughts have become, managing our many appointments, struggling with staying optimistic while trying to do as much as we can to live a normal life. If you are new to cancer, trust me, you are gong to have more appointments than you ever thought possible, and if you have metastatic cancer, you still have appointment after appointment and you, of all people, deserve beautiful things as well as the belief in time. You also need a place to keep notes to your family for when you are gone. (I have a book of my passwords but sometimes I think, "Oh, I need to tell them this...and it is gone by the time I see somebody, so writing it in a planner and letting them know that's where to look for things is a good idea).
Why not wrangle all this stuff with a gorgeous planner? Why not customize it to match your life?
For those who have asked me what to get their friends who have been newly diagnosed - I think it would also be a great gift. Trust me, they will use it, they have so much coming at them so quick....a personalized planner with messages of inspiration can only be helpful and loved.
Because I thought it was so lovely, and would be so helpful no matter our stage of cancer (or stage of life) I contacted the folks at Erin Condren and asked if they would run a contest on my blog. I have only done that a couple times in the history of this blog, (the last time was with SugarWish,) and I was very thankful when the Erin Condren people said yes!
All you have to do is like Erin Condren on facebook. Or, instagram, or twitter, or preferably all three. But definitely facebook.
Here is a funny story: After researching planners, I saw their product. I saw the possibilities for all of us cancer patients, and then contacted them, asking for the contest and telling them I thought I could bring them some new facebook likes.
I did that before I looked at their facebook page - and saw that they already had 76,634k fans.
To their credit, they didn't laugh at me, they took me seriously and offered the contest. So, show them that we in the cancer community can bring them some likes. Then come back here and post a comment about something you might personalize about this planner. I will use random.org to draw a winner next Thursday. Comments close on January 16th at 10:00 pm PST so that gives a full week to win this wonderful prize.
One of the winners of the Medication Management System has never contacted me, so reader Melinda Payne, please contact me at butdoctorihatepink AT gmail DOT com with your address and I'll have one sent out to you.
Also, please don't forget to vote for me in Healthline's Best Blog's Contest. There is a badge in the upper right corner of my blog, just leave this page open and click daily. There are only 11 days left until the winner is announced. Please vote daily, get your family and friends and neighbors and be that annoying person who bugs strangers to vote for other strangers. The money will go to my son's college fund, which we will tap this year. (He still has straight As, for all of his semesters of high school; I'm so proud!) We just finished his college applications.....and....OMG. That was a shock. I had no idea that colleges charged that much just to apply. I suspect we'll have more sticker shock coming and every bit helps. So please vote!