My Cancer Story: A Ladies Room Meltdown

Closed Door

When I found out in June 2014 that I needed a complete hysterectomy, I asked my oncologist if I should expect mood changes.

“Most likely not,” she said, “since you’re well into menopause. But if you do, they’ll start at three weeks. That’s when all your residual estrogen will be gone.”

I stood in the shower three weeks later, tears running down my face. This has been hard, I thought. I’m probably just reacting to all I’ve been through.

But gradually, as the weeks went by, my mood darkened and the crying increased. By the time Cliff and I arrived on Bald Head Island for a four day vacation in October, I was experiencing what I can best describe as a deep gloom. The gloom would sometimes envelop me for an hour or two; other times it lasted for several days.

Our first night on the island, we stepped into one of our favorite haunts, the bar in the Bald Head Island Club. Soon we were chatting with a couple celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary.

Ten minutes later, the husband called out, “Heck, we’ve been married 53 years. We don’t need to sit with each other. Let’s switch places!” The wife jumped off her bar stool, and Cliff traded places with her.

The wife was quirky, sending out sentences that were difficult to interpret. I struggled to converse with her. I looked over at Cliff, laughing away with the husband. The tears started to roll. I slipped of my stool and headed for the the ladies room.

Now an important part of this story is that the ladies room at the Bald Head Island Club is just about the prettiest ladies room I know. A visit there makes for a festive bathroom trip.

But no matter. Not tonight.

I cried as I walked into the stall.

Open Door

I cried in the stall.

I cried at the sink.


I cried in front of the seahorse print.


And that’s when I knew.

If you cry in a beautiful ladies room while an eccentric couple and your husband gab at the bar, you are not a happy person. I like quirk. I love characters. I can make conversation with a flea, and I’ve never thought husbands and wives need to stick together like Velcro. This was not me!

Hormones (or lack thereof) had transformed me into a sad shadow of my former self. I needed help.

Photo Credit:  Thanks to my new friend Margot for the stunning ladies room photos!

(The story will continue in the next blog post…)



My Cancer Story: Scars!




For those of you who may face laproscopic surgery someday, voila!

Here are three of my five scars at seven weeks. Amazing the doctor inserted a camera and then removed ovaries, fallopian tubes, and lymph nodes through those slits.

Years ago, this would have been one huge incision that left behind a long scar. Thank you,  modern medicine!

When my doctor called at the four week mark, I talked about how sick I felt on and off for the first two weeks, which confused me since I experienced no acute pain. “With laproscopy,” she said, “patients sometimes forget they just had major surgery. We really move you around in there.”

Although the outside doesn’t hurt much,  on the inside you’ve been pushed and shoved and prodded and sliced. It’s going to take a while for your body to recover from the trauma.

As everyone warned me over and over again, REST IS BEST.

But as you’re resting, dream of  a beach somewhere, because if you want to reveal your midriff, you can do so almost scar free.

P.S. I actually have no plans to show my midriff again, at least not any time soon. This may be my swan song.

I’m pleased to be interviewed by fellow writer Melissa Buron. Read the interview here on her blog!

Melissa Buron


My Cancer Story: Getting Ready for Surgery


I’m a project person.

I like to be organized.

And I’m fond of shopping.

So I took on preparing for surgery with a touch of gusto. I was scheduled for a hysterectomy on July 8. A month earlier a biopsy had revealed endometrial cancer.

I bought a new nightgown.


Hospital Stuff

I found stretchy shorts. I wouldn’t be able to wear waistbands for a while.

And I picked up some other post-surgery items.

I put sheets on the guestroom beds, since I thought it best not to climb our long stairs for a week or so.

And I made the house as tidy as could be.

As the day approached, a sort of calm came over me.

Yet I had moments when my illness hit me anew. Our pastor sends out a weekly email with announcements of upcoming happenings at Hillsborough Presbyterian Church.


Church Announcement




I felt so good. How could I be sick?

The night before the surgery, I took a final walk on our brand new riverwalk. I had no idea when I’d be able to walk this trail again.


I talked to my girls on the phone, and to my mom (I didn’t tell her a word about my illness until after the surgery).

Got the blog set.

Packed my hospital bag.  Added a folder with my Living Will.

Gave my ID and medical card to Cliff to carry.

Took a shower with antibacterial scrub per hospital instructions. Talk about squeaky clean!

The very last project was taking off my nail polish.  Hospital rules state it has to be removed. One pedicure down the tubes.


Three weeks later, after the surgery, I sank into a bit of a funk. My oncologist said it’s normal. “You sail into cancer surgery with  blinders on,” she explained. “You do what you have to do. Later you stop and really reflect.”

And that was me.

I did what I had to do.

And got as ready as I could.

With the help of my husband and the well wishes of friends and family, I was off to UNC Hospital at five the next morning. Lights out!



Slammed into Menopause

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A post by blogger and landscape architect Amelia Grant:

Women in my family tend to go through menopause later than usual. My mother was 56 years old and claimed ,“It only took one day!” My cousin is 54 and my sister 57, and  neither of them have any symptom of ‘the change.’

Last year I was diagnosed with a fibroid the size of a cantaloupe and an ovarian cyst the size of an orange.

I was looking somewhat pregnant and feeling a bit, um, large. The gynecologist was none too happy with me when I, at age 51, said,“Let’s give the things a little time. Maybe menopause will naturally shrink them.“ (This is possible –estrogen causes them to grow and lack thereof causes shrinkage).  51 is the average age of menopause.

Needless to say, I found myself having a total abdominal hysterectomy 3 months later, as I was still producing plenty of estrogen and the things were getting bigger instead of smaller. I emerged from the surgery thinner and happy my ovary had not exploded .

Things were not too bad at first. I was (and still am) reluctant to take hormone replacement therapy.

However, one night I awoke to find more fluid coming out of my body than I had ever experienced. Primarily, my neck for some bizarre reason.

It was as if some gigantic pores had opened below my hairline; the pillow was soaked, and I had to get a towel and sleep with it.

Then I decided to start counting the hot flashes; it was exceeding 10 a day, most of them requiring a wipe down.  Living in South Florida and the time of year being Summer did not help matters. I called the gynecologist and asked for some help.

“Is your sleep disturbed?” they asked.

Only by waterfalls of mysterious fluid leaking out of my neck..followed by frozen clamminess.

I am not sure if disturbed is even the proper word. Defiled is more like it.

So, I got the horse dose of HRT in a transdermal patch. The patch does help but I am still not out of the woods and menopause has definitely lasted more than one day.

Amelia Grant is a very experienced Landscape Architect/Designer who a few years back left the big city of Atlanta for an idyllic life in a small town in South Florida. The ensuing experiences led to a blog and new found pleasure in writing and sharing information online.


She lives on the Treasure Coast with her husband, two retired racing greyhounds and a fluffy  white cat. Landscape design and consulting are her primary occupation with writing, gardening, and cooking as sidelines.

Amelia’s  blog,The Shrub Queen, may be found at