Archive | June, 2014

Deodorant

24 Jun

Doing a blog is cool. I only wish I had time to add entries as often as I have ideas. When summer is behind us I will have more time, I think.

The thing about a blog is that I get to write down what I’m feeling or thinking & talk about what bugs me or makes me happy. It’s my open forum & I get to use it as a means of self-expression without the inclusion of an editor & his / her annoying red pen.

Don’t get me wrong … the most appreciated gift one can have when writing a book is a really good editor & I was blessed to have Joyce Maddox (the world’s BEST editor) at Warwick House Publishers work with me when I was getting my book, Reflections of My Life of Rhyme ready for publication with Warwick House. A blog just gives you free rein of expression, which is often liberating & almost always rewarding in some way.  Hopefully, people who are feeling or thinking the same things will read it & say, “Ahh Haa … I’m not the only one who feels that way or has had that experience.”

If those who are following my blog don’t like what I’ve written they have several options; they can choose not to read an entry, stop reading my blog altogether or send me a COMMENT telling me they didn’t like it. Those comments may or may not impact me by hurting my feelings but they won’t result in lower book sales, which are guaranteed to hurt my feelings by impacting my bank account.

So, about deodorant …. I’ve just spent a month looking for deodorant & stretching out what I have left by using it sparingly. By the way, I have not had any complaints about “offending socially” during my deodorant quest.

Way back when I was 13 or so, I went into my mom’s bedroom where she gingerly shaved off 3 hairs from each of my armpits with her electric razor & handed me a tiny, flat jar of blue cream deodorant.  That’s when I began using Secret. I’ve used it down through the decades for many reasons beginning with the fact that blue is my favorite color & as a kid stepping across the threshold into the world of adult odors & pheromones, my mom gave me that little flat jar filled with blue Secret.

As a young adult testing my independence, I tried a roll-on once that was NOT a Secret product that resulted in such terrible pit irritation that I couldn’t completely lower my arms for 3 days. That’s when I went back to Secret & have remained loyal to the product, even through its many changes.

There have been Secret solids, roll-ons, sprays, gels, scented & unscented & sadly,  that delicate blue cream in the small, flat jar that enamored me as a kid has long since disappeared from the Secret line of deodorant offerings. The still vivid memory of my irritated arm pits has also been very instrumental in making me an on-going Secret user. If it ain’t broke … don’t fix it.

For years now I’ve been using Secret unscented gel, with the exception of several months while I was going through radiation therapy for breast cancer. I had to use a special, fairly expensive deodorant that contained no aluminum & almost all the OTC deodorants do. But that was short lived & after the radiation was all said & done I went right back to Secret. I like the gel part because it dries quickly & doesn’t leave a baking soda residue under the arms of my dark clothing. I like the unscented part because if I want to wear a favorite perfume, it doesn’t produce a conflict of odors. And I like the Secret part because I still have fond memories of that “Mama-Moment” when she shaved off my 3 axillary hairs & presented me with that small, flat white jar filled with sky-blue deodorant.

So here’s the terrible news … a month ago Secret unscented gel suddenly disappeared from the shelves of WalMart, CVS, Walgreens & every convenience store in our area. I know … I’ve checked. It’s upsetting.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older but more & more often products I’ve used forever, really like & have come to depend on have disappeared from store shelves around the world.  It’s happened with make-up & soap, laundry detergent & even canned, boxed & frozen food items. I’ve eventually been able to find suitable substitutes, although they’re never quite the same. It’s kind of similar to generic medications only substitute products are just as costly. The positive point here is that they don’t have to be approved by an insurance company for my use.  It’s even happened with toilet paper. We use to use fluffy White Cloud until they apparently sold their fluffy formula to a competitor. We still use White Could but it has changed & we no longer feel like we’re sitting on a cloud while using it. What a loss.

Probably the product I miss most is my shampoo & conditioner. While I was going through chemo & almost a year of being hairless two very unpleasant things happened (other than the chemo & my hair loss): 1) they discontinued my shampoo & conditioner & 2) the beautician who cut & styled my hair for years, retired. She called & told me that since I didn’t have any hair she had decided it was a good time to retire. I was devastated … on both counts.

For the past 5 years now I’ve been buying my shampoo & conditioner from Overstock.com. They must have been REALLY overstocked because I can still find it “out there” in Overstock Land but the prices are steadily creeping up. The stock must be dwindling. So I checked &, guess what? … no surprise here …Overstock.com HAS a supply of Secret unscented gel if I’m willing to pay a handsome price for it. We’ll see.

Yesterday while I was out I stumbled across an unscented deodorant gel manufactured by Almay. In my determination NOT to become Overstock.com’s bitch, I bought two of them. It’s hypoallergenic so maybe it won’t result in the swollen, itchy, puffed-up pits that caused me such anguish several decades ago & remains a vivid memory. It’s worth a try.

As a kid I was always fascinated by commercials for Five Day Deodorant Pads. In my less than sophisticated view of the world & deodorants I imagined that you stuck one of those pads under your arms & kept it there for five days. That brought up all sorts of questions in my young mind like how did you hold those pads under your arms for five days & could you go swimming?

I’m wondering if they still make Five Day Deodorant Pads. If you use them like I envisioned as a child, they certainly must be cost effective, which, on second thought, would be a reason to take them off the market & land them in that Discontinued Product boneyard somewhere in the recesses of the Smithsonian. I’d check for them on Overstock.com but they probably have them & maybe I really don’t want to know.

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The Meaning of Life…

1 Jun

It’s been overcast & threatening to rain all day. Heavy, dirty marshmallow clouds hang over the school as we leave the parking lot on a golf cart heading to the cafeteria to meet our friends who are saving us a seat for dinner. The golf cart ride is a perk for survivors & caregivers & we are a part of that … the couple we are meeting & us.

We were new friends when I became a survivor in 2008 & have grown closer as she also became a survivor in 2012; our friendship extending past just going out to dinner or a movie because of an unexpected journey into the land of cancer. It has changed us.

Every year I have a compelling need to be here & now, too, does Beth. Tonight is their 23rd. wedding anniversary & they sit at a table in a high school cafeteria waving to us as we come in. She has just changed into her “survivor” t-shirt that the American Cancer Society has given us & Peter is wearing a dark t-shirt with bright pink letters & a pink ribbon that shouts to anyone who wishes to read it,  “My Wife – My Hero.”

Willy has rushed home from work so we would be here on time. His rushing is not so much because that’s the one place on earth he wants to be tonight but because he knows that for me it IS. He’s wearing his “caregiver” t-shirt that he won back in 2009 for bringing in $1000 in donations to the Relay for Life; walking for both of us as I was recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy.

Dinner is good; catered & donated for survivors & caregivers to the Relay for Life by Olive Garden.  Because the American Cancer Society is responsible for many more birthdays (their logo says so), dessert is a symbolic birthday cake made up of cupcakes & we pig out.

Another golf cart & another perk, we’re delivered to the athletic field & the track, now lined by campsites with only feet between them. Every campsite has something special for sale … cookies, key chains, a handmade bench, raffle tickets, t-shirts & there are prizes especially for survivors. The money raised at the campsites goes towards the Relay for Life & 99% of the people manning these sites, selling their wares, donating their proceeds are there because they have been touched in some way by cancer.

We walk from campsite to campsite & look at everything. A band is playing & people are having a good time. I’ve found a t-shirt I can’t resist; a breast cancer shirt with a cow logo with a bright pink udder & teats. Written on 2 pink ribbons beside the cow is the message, “Save the teats & all the udders.”  I buy the shirt because it makes me laugh. I’m thinking I might wear it the next time I’m invited to speak to a seminar or group about breast cancer. I like to start my presentations with humor. It relaxes my audience & reminds me how important it is to have humor on your side as you stumble along the cancer road on your personal journey.

The evening is about to begin as all Relay evenings do … with the survivors lap around the track followed by the caregivers lap. The color guard takes the lead followed by survivors carrying the banner proclaiming that those of us walking here are just that – survivors. This is why Beth & I came, why she is spending her wedding anniversary walking this track with me & not at a candlelit dinner at a nice restaurant alone with Peter. We feel compelled to be here but totally at a loss to explain that compulsion to those on the “other side” of the track.

The walk begins & Beth & I join arms & walk together … out here under heavy gray clouds surrounded in front, beside & behind us by our newly acquired brothers & sisters.  We have become part of an unexpected community. Everyone out here with us has shared the same experiences; the same fears, the same confusion, the same journey in one way or another & in a number of cases the same joy in remission. We both cry. How could we not?

Still walking arm in arm Beth tells me of the irony she feels at being here. She says that all those years she volunteered, raised funds, worked with a team, felt deep sadness for the victims of cancer; it never occurred to her that she would be walking this track as a survivor. We both felt somehow protected because we did everything right – lived healthy lives & had no family history of cancer but here we are walking with our new family of survivors & now we share a family history with them.

As we’re walking the longest walk we will take today we speculate about those who are here tonight, yet to be diagnosed & those who are here with us, surrounding us on the track who may not be here taking this long walk at the next Relay. Not only do we feel blessed to be here, walking together, crying together, we realize that walking this track has brought us as close as we will EVER be to understanding the meaning of life or at least the deepest appreciation of it. We have lived through a journey that threatened to take it away from us. At this moment there is nowhere that I would rather be than sharing this significant walk & my tears with my friend.

Peter & Willy have walked the caregivers lap & now we’re just walking, buying more fun stuff & contributing to the Relay, buying goofy cow t-shirts, glow sticks & goofy glasses. It’s so good to spend this evening with our friends who are friends now on many different levels. We share a bond that needs no words.

Bags are set up along the track & the candles inside are lit. Bagpipers walk the track playing a haunting rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Although hundreds of people are here, a significant & reverent silence falls over the field, held in place by those ominous, yet temporarily forgiving clouds. You can hear a pin drop or a baby crying at one of the campsites. The glowing bags each honor a cancer victim who has survived or lost their battle. Pictures in honor & memory of cancer victims & survivors are flashed on a huge screen hung on the side of one of the school buildings.  The moment is surreal & unforgettable & filled with emotion.

We hug each other. We’re glad we’re here & we’re glad we came.

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