Denial is a great thing?

 

This photoshoot took place ten days ago.

 

Here I am

 

Let’s start with body image.

You will see the different shots through this article.

I am going to share my thoughts with you today.

I’m talking about all the times I’ve stayed away from a social media post that deals with breast cancer. Are they all sharing the whole story or the entire truth?

When first diagnosed in 2016, I had not been personally involved in or sat beside anyone else dealing with this disease.

I believe that if you haven’t experienced it, you will remain naive.

I believe this works in our journey of life.

October cannot serve as a pink profit capitalization. The five-year survival rate after a stage four breast cancer diagnosis is 22 percent.

The color pink is not a cure.

Breast cancer is one of the most funded cancers in the world. However, more research must move forward, metastatic breast cancer, spreading to another part of the body.

We are losing too many loved ones from a breast cancer diagnosis in 2020.

Let’s not subject ourselves to pinkwashing and forgetting the reality that breast cancer presents.

and now

Another short rant from me

I believe we should always work on ourselves.

If you have experienced this as a late-stage or metastatic patient, I know you understand and have experienced this.

You learn to bite your tongue.

Suppose I am asked specifically about this.  I will share what I have learned.

But

If I had a dollar each time I hear from an earlier stage breast cancer patient or their family member mentions.

“I was in stage 1-2 ” It has been five years. My cancer illness is complete.

I pray these people are one hundred percent correct.

There is a percentage out there that cancer will return to their body at some time and place. The more years you stay cancer-free; yes, the better the rate and your chances that this doesn’t happen.

Those first five years are frightening.

You hit that five-year mark, and you haven’t had a recurrence, and that is a huge deal.

Positive and realistic is what I pray we all can be.

Please don’t ruin your life by obsessing about cancer.

We always need to be working on ourselves.

This is how I feel about being a stage four patient.

She said it so well.

Oliva Newton-John

“You know what? I don’t know what my time is, but I need to enjoy my life. So, I’m going to eat a cookie if I want it. And I’m going to have a cup of tea if I want it. And if I want to have a little bit of wine, I’m gonna do that. Because of the joy of life and everyday living has to be a part of that healing process as well.”

And Scene

September 2015 Less than a year before mbc diagnosis

How do you stay in the moment and stay present and not let it consume you and worry you?

Why me?

“Why me?” has never been a part of it

I have never felt victimized.

Shortly after my diagnosis in 2016, I was internally asking myself—this question.

“Why not.”

Maybe I needed to create a reason to make it ok for myself.

I’ve told so many of you through the years.

You choose to.

I keep the following this close to my heart.

Cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence

Compassion and empathy for others is a healing force

Gratitude is the best medicine

feelitonthefirst 2018

The Prognosis

The percentage of people who pass away because of metastatic breast cancer is very high. If I were to focus and obsess on those numbers, I most likely would not have surpassed what the doctors told me in 2016.

Yes, it does cross my mind. Specifically, when I get reminded that I have tumors growing in my brain or repeat PET scans due.

So I sit there, and I feel it. I get scared and emotional. I’ve learned to work through these emotions and, most importantly, move forward.

I focus on finding peace in every moment.

I search for the positive and the intention behind my thoughts and actions.

As well as others.

I dream of the future.

I affirm what that future looks like.

May 2019 – a year before dexamethasone. I thought I was overweight and out of shape. Fat has always been my own body image. zzz

I do my best not to think about it all often. It is easiest to explain this by simply stating I don’t obsess.

I work on keeping my mind and heart at peace.

And the metastatic breast cancer path that I have chosen.

When I write my thoughts and experience with you, they are raw and fresh on my mind.

This is my perfect place to process and work on my mind and attitude.

Sending well wishes and health to us all.

 

NotoriousMBC – What’s in a name

 

So, am I ⁠

Question: Sherry or Shaw-ri? ⁠

 

Answer:   Shaw-ri

My entire life the double pronunciation shows up

 

Question:⁠.  Sheranian, what nationality is that?⁠

Steve’s family culture is originally from Armenia.

If you remember that fact. You can usually pronounce the surname name.

 

Put them both together:

People like the way it rolls off the tongue.       Shari Sheranian

⁠and where or why did I choose

“NotoriousMBC”⁠

Opening the door a bit⁠ –  Or I often say to Steve,  “inside my mind and/or madness”

 

I have thought through the years of changing the name.

People ask about it and just don’t understand it.

 

And I am so glad I have did not.

It means more to me now than ever before.

This is my why behind the name

 

I was pondering for a name, my website, blog, for my overall story.  

The NotoriousRBG came to my mind.

And that was it.  

NotoriousMBC

Notorious Metastatic Breast Cancer

www.notoriousmbc.com

Learn a little more about the NotoriousRBG

 Top 10 Amazing Amazing Facts about RBG

For this list, we’re looking at fascinating facts about this prominent political figure and a progressive icon who was one of the first women appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At 5’1″ and barely 100 pounds, Ruth Bader Ginsburg earned her nickname The Notorious RBG by the sheer force of who she was as a judge: a feminist icon, a rebel, an unwavering voice and advocate for justice. And yes – after Notorious Big’s died, the public coined her nickname, and she was a cultural icon.

 

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Badder Ginsburg made wearing her infamous dissent collars as a statement.

 

And she had a closet full.

Each collar meant something specific about the time she spent as a Supreme Court Justice.

 

I can understand Ruth finding something to wear over the black robes that would drown her petite frame.

 I’d love to know if she left these collars to anyone specific. I believe that many she received as gifts.

RBG has a specific sense of humor that everyone loved.

 

This now-famous collar came into Ruth’s possession when she attended the Glamours Woman of the year event in 2012.

She received this in a “swag bag” at the event. She explained that she chose to wear it as her dissent collar while serving on the Supreme Court from this point forward.

 

When asked why this is the dissent collar, she told Katie Couric that quite simply, “It looks fitting for dissent.” RBG is known to wear the collar when the Supreme Court announces a decision she is against, but she has worn it on other occasions, such as the day after Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

 

Many are saddened. We knew it was coming. 

 

The number of times she has battled cancer and been in active treatment. As a cancer patient, I cringe when people say to me in conversation that I am putting in a “good fight.” 

 

In my thoughts, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the name that comes to mind. 

 

She is a woman who I have inspired to emulate through life. She is an “Icon,” a “Force” as a woman, feminist, and a cancer patient. 

 

I feel a bit selfish, knowing how much of her life she has accomplished. I know there were many days that she fought on feeling like shit.

The will never be another like her. Thank you RBG

 

 

 

 

 

Hakuna Mata

 

 

Going in for surgery on your brain during a lockdown – on the one hand, yes, I am so very grateful to be having the treatment. On the other hand, I was scared, terrified.

 

After the past three months, I have been slowly starting edge my way back into the wild.

 

At times,  I am nervous and scared going into these repeat scans.

Today I will have a repeat MRI to check on the progress and swelling of my brain.

I will also have a full PET scan on my body. It has been six months since the last.

 

From my original diagnosis in 2016, I have been considered a stage four metastatic breast cancer patient having cancer in several areas of my body.

 

After my original chemo treatment and continued medication, my body scan has shown no change. NEAD (no evidence of active disease).

 

Yes, a feat on its own. And a reason to celebrate as a triple-positive breast cancer patient Herceptin has worked for me.

 

If you know me well, I hesitate to talk about this subject, let alone write about it and throwing it out in the universe.

 

Maybe you are out of the loop.

 

I had a craniotomy on June 3, 2020, to remove one growing tumor.

 

Honestly, the shit show scares me more than ever while awaiting scan results.

I feel that I am in “the” right place, both physically and mentally.

 

But I can’t stay in a safe bubble forever.

 

It is time once again and take the plunge and face the reality of metastatic breast cancer.

 

Scanxiety doesn’t serve me, so I’m once again releasing that energy.

 

It is a day to day and scan to scan learning.

 

I am accepting whatever will eventually show up again. Because the truth is that is what happens with metastatic disease.

 

Metastatic breast cancer remains without a cure. Many patients live beyond their diagnosis as I have and will continue for many years.

 

I am not able to control what is in my body.

But I can choose and control how I feel about it.

I will continue to serve myself and my heart.

I will not obsess about what I can not control.

Don’t worry, just be happy.

 

There are two sides

Processed with VSCO with fn16 preset

 

 

So often, I hear, “you look great.” It is such a double-edged sword.

 

I do not want to be defined by my disease.

 

We all live through our lives with not being just one thing.

 

Everyone has two sides, but both sides make up who you are. 

You can allow both sides to have a place in your life.

 

I’ve chosen to use the traumas as lessons to help or aid in becoming a better version of myself.

 

Cancer treatment and weight gain

 

Yes. Weight gain does take place during cancer treatment. Pharmaceutical treatment is always one of the culprits. Add other issues during a world panromantic. How many comfort foods have you prepared and enjoyed since March?

 

I’ve stopped baking the treats and fattening meals.  Yes, I eat it.  I just make sure I am making less fattening choices.

 

As I notice the looks or stares from people who have no idea why I am sporting a mohawk and scar on my head, I admit its best for my thoughts to quickly move forward.

 

It makes me giggle a little when I remember my “moon face” and the COVID mask that I wear.

 

No wonder it is both kids and adults.

 

If you haven’t had this experience, let me explain a bit more about a cancer patient’s appearance like mine.

 

Facial swelling, also often referred to as moon face, sometimes occurs while taking steroids like dexamethasone. It is one of the common side effects of prednisone.  A moon face is a medical sign when a rounded appearance on the sides of your face.

 

I will add that the swelling is also in my neck.

 

You may have heard of steroid rage.  

 

No, I am not experiencing anything like it.

 

I will mention, the internal buffer that I have had regarding my thoughts and words disappeared—my poor sweet husband. Of course, Steve is the safest person in my life, and the first person my buffer comes off with.   

 

Honestly, I like this version of myself. Because I have so much to learn from myself during my natural outbursts’.

 

When asking Steve about the situation, he was getting in trouble all the time. That was my red flag for sure.

 

Honestly, at about week two of my “naughty.” Lack of a better word. I at least knew to “stay in my lane” and tone things down. My experience was similar to a bad case of PMS.  

 

I am so grateful to recognize these “types” of things in myself. I know I am blessed to deal with things, learn from them, and grow.

 

Brain surgery and radiation.

 

June 3, 2020, one operative tumor was removed craniotomy.

 

I completed five-pointed radiation zaps on the two nonoperative tumors in early August and scheduled with one day in-between each.

 

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain. It can deliver precisely-targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy, which can help preserve healthy tissue.

 

What I’ve learned physically and emotionally during the last five months of my MBC journey.

 

I still quickly forget that I have a terminal disease.

 

Having brain surgery and brain radiation is similar to having a brain injury.

You adjust as you heal.  

 

I was reminded again how healthy my body and mind are.  

 

Dexamethasone 

 

The struggle is real, and the face is affected. “moon face.”

 

Lessons learned from brain swelling.

 

The steroid dexamethasone was introduced to me in February 2020. It has been such an experience to go through this challenging COVID year.  

 

Laughing in hindsight, I can see the humor in my experience.

 

Steve and I learned a lot during the last several months while I have been emotionally and mentally affected while it has been necessary to have this steroid in my body.

 

It is the goal to not have any brain swelling from the invasive cancer treatment.  

 

At this time, I still have swelling and additional issues if we don’t treat it. 

 

My “normal” internal buffer that I have had regarding my thoughts and words tend to disappear while taking this steroid. My poor sweet husband. I must remember to be extra patient with him in this situation. Of course, he is the safest person in my life, and so the first person that my buffer comes off with. Honestly, I like this version of myself. I learn so much from myself during my not so buffered experience of my thoughts and mind.

When asking Steve about the situation, he was getting in trouble all the time. That was my red flag for sure.

Honestly, week two of my “naughty.” Lack of a better word. I at least knew to “stay in my lane” and tone things down. My experience was similar to a bad case of PMS. And Steve brought this to my attention.

I am so grateful to recognize these “types” of things in myself. I know I am blessed to deal with things, learn from them, and grow.

Dexamethasone has helped me find my true self during a very mentally tricky time.

 

As of today, moon-face and weight gain are such a part of my life.

Every day I am more accepting of this side effect. 

It is necessary for many cancer patients just like me.

Fear is to be understood

 

 

𝘕𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥 —

This is a loaded statement.

The elephant in the room that people are not comfortable talking about is death.

I believe that anyone who is traveling on a late-stage cancer road, death is a conversation they are willing to have.

Or at least that is my experience.

Mind you, not everyone wants to hear what I have to say about it. And sometimes I walk away, biting my tongue because of the uneasiness that it has caused.

People who know me well will confirm that. 

I am always an open book.

If you don’t want to hear my opinion, you shouldn’t ask me.

My argument if I really need one,

is it is time to understand more,⁠ ⁠so that we may be fearless?⁠ ⁠ ⁠ 

When I say understand more, I’m not saying my thinking is right or wrong.

It is merely what I have found to be the truth for myself.

How do we understand our fear or at least accept our fear?

Inner peace

What brings me peace when I think of my fear “death” as my example won’t necessarily feel the same for you.

I have learned to develop an inner-peace through my experience.

Over time I’ve found what works for me. I refer to it as “my personal way” of mediation.

 

This is the beautiful thing about meditating — 

It is what you decide it is for you.

 

Sitting still in a room and trying to meditate has never worked for me.

 

A few years ago, I noticed that when I was disconnected or found myself in an unfamiliar physical space– my thoughts were less restricted. 

 

I was training my mind to way to drift into a different place.

 

When I have the opportunity to be in the silence of nature, my own meditation process becomes very natural.

Laying in an MRI machine is obviously the furthest thing from being in the great outdoors.

But I’ve learned to trick my brain.

 

Whatever it takes to “let go,” this is when my mind clears of the everyday thoughts.

 

I begin by moving my thoughts to gratitude.

 

I use memories that bring my loving, grateful, and peaceful moments.  

This helps my mind to go from one grateful thought to another.

 

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to travel, I collect memories specifically to recall for a needed time.

This works well for me.

When I need to, I can mentally and emotionally travel to different destinations by using my memories.

This is what calms me.

 

I use this method when I undergo cancer testing and scans.

The times when I need to release anxiety.

 

I have noticed that when I’ve completed my own meditative experience, I often have my best ideas come to mind.

 

an example

 

When I’ve needing to reach out to a family member or friend. Not knowing how to handle a situation.

 

It is very affirming to me that I have reset my mind and spirit and am ready for comes next.

 

Again, there is no right or wrong way to meditate.

You don’t need to call it meditation.

 

Do the discovery that is waiting for you.  It is there for you to reach out and touch it.

Your personal journey to experiencing inner peace.

⁠ ⁠ ⁠

When Estrogen goes from Friend to Foe

 

 

We all have our dates – dates that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never forget the sounds in the room, and the feeling in your stomach the moment you either experienced complete bliss or absolute trauma.

 

For me, it was April 22, 2016.

 

It was 8:30 in the morning when my right breast was firmly pressed for the mammogram.

By 9:00, the radiologist was telling me I am going to need an oncologist and surgeon, and the words you have cancer came out of his mouth.

That was that and off to work and the rest of my life.

 

Fours years ago, cancer disrupted my life.

It was just ten days later when I first heard the words metastatic breast cancer but I had no idea what that meant.

 

I made a decision just days later on how I would choose to understand what this diagnosis would mean for me.

 

I had already learned through life experiences that depending on how I chose to tell my story would determine the life I lived moving forward.

I can not look into the future, but I can look into myself.

 

I can ask myself questions. The same concern often pops into my mind.

Who am I, and who do I want to be.

 

People ask what keeps me moving forward.

I do believe that miracles happen every day.

I know that I can create miracles.

 

More important for me is to keep in mind that life’s journey may not always be straight or perfect.

 

My path is full of missteps, lessons, and at times suffering.

 

But honestly whose isn’t?

 

This life of mine is pretty incredible.

Difficult?

Sometimes.

Conflicting and confusing?

For sure!

A little heartbreaking at times?

 

Maybe, still, I think I’ll keep going, you know, to see what happens next.

 

Yes, when you find you have pulled the card and the hand of terminal illness, it changes you.

 

When you make a decision to change how you look at the world, you change the way the world looks at you.

 

Today is April 22, 2020, and I am marking it as my Four-year Cancerversary

 

My wish for you all this next year is filled with love and health.

Shari