TWO!!!!!

December 20, 2014

Two years ago today, I arrived at our local hospital at 5:30 a.m. for the first of six surgeries related to my breast cancer.  This surgery was to perform a bilateral mastectomy, remove and test lymph nodes and put in tissue expanders for my reconstruction.

I don’t remember too much about that morning other than it was stupid early, I wasn’t scared for the surgery, I knew the surgery and recovery would be fine; it was the unknown.  Would I wake up cancer free?  So many questions that would need to be answered.

I woke up to learn that the cancer was indeed in my lymph nodes and this changed everything.  I remember laying in my hospital room, just Pat and I, crying.  Learning the cancer had spread was devastating to me and I was suddenly very scared and overwhelmed.

Despite how scared I was, I found myself surrounded by my friends and family, I took so much comfort in knowing they were literally right by my side.  I wasn’t able to use my arms due to the drains coming out from under each of my arms, which meant I couldn’t take care of my very basic needs on my own.  I had to depend on others, something that I’m just not used to doing.

In the last 2 years, so many things in my own life have changed.  I have sadly lost friends, and while that still bothers me, I know I am better off for it.  Things and people change, that includes me too.  I too have changed, cancer will do that to a person.

I have recently talked with a friend about the time I was bald, I explained it as having the opportunity to see the raw me, the bare, raw, naked me.  I was out of work, sitting inside my house day in and day out, people had stopped calling and coming by, I had nothing but time on my hands and thoughts in my head.  That is not always a good combination; but in my case, it turned out to be something wonderful.  I learned things that I never would have learned had it not been for having breast cancer, so for that, I am thankful for the role that cancer played in my life.

One of the things that has changed in my life is that I no longer will chase after people, keep the communication alive.  I’ve learned to step away and let others come to me; I’m no longer going to be the sole communicator in any relationship that I have.  That is a big deal for me, huge for me to let go of.  But for my own peace of mind, I had too.

I’ve learned to accept an apology that I will never receive, but will always long for.  While I’m still working on the forgiveness part, I’ve been able to move away from the hurt that was caused.

I’ve learned that I truly am a strong person, I have a very good heart, a desire to reach out and help others. I’ve learned to use my voice regarding breast cancer, to use it to tell the world that breast cancer is about more than a pink ribbon.

I’ve learned that fear of recurrence holds me back, mostly from photography.  Although, I have a true desire to go photograph some beautiful Christmas lights that I will hopefully get to do next week before they are gone until next year; I’m getting there.

I’ve come to realize the depths of love my husband has for me; it was all there all along, I just couldn’t see it; feel it.  I was blinded by past hurts, but thanks to breast cancer, his love blinded me and I am so very thankful for that.

I’ve learned to laugh, really laugh.

I’ve learned to let things go, let them roll off my shoulders and not get stressed out over things I can’t control. I can still negotiate with the best of em, but I’m just not going to get all stressed out anymore; nothing in life is worth that, especially my health and happiness.

I’ve learned to see the beauty in all things, the smallest of things.  I’ve learned to stop and look around, to slow down.

And I’m learning to take steps back towards my camera, to fall in love with photography again, I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

In the mean time, today, I celebrate being cancer free for 2 years.  Two glorious years!  I had a quiet day at home, my favorite cake made by by favorite baker (Honey’s Boy Desserts) and a beautiful card from my sweet hubby.

I don’t expect everyone to understand why I make a big deal out of the day, and that’s ok.  However, the best way I can explain it is this:  Every time I have lab work come back clean, that’s a victory over cancer.  And each year that goes by that I remain cancer free is one more year closer to truly beating cancer, and that my friends, is a damn big deal!

Celebrate your victories in life!  I surely am going too!

The Dance

December 10, 2014

I’m a big Garth Brooks fan, or as some use to say, I’m a “Brooks Believer” at least I think that is what fans used to calla themselves, I’m drawing on my chemo brain to remember, so if you really want to know if that’s true, look it up, then let me know.  LOL

One of my favorite songs by GB is The River, We Shall Be Free, Mom (new single) and The Dance.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog post and what I wanted to write about since last night, even asking the question on Facebook; several suggestions were posted, but my heart was drawn to this song.  I started thinking about the lyrics, and landing on the chorus over and over and over again.  The chorus spoke to me about my life, my journey, these past 2 years.

On December 20, 2014, I will PROUDLY celebrate being 2 years of  ‘no evidence of disease’ (cancer free).  While some may not understand the importance of that, let me try to explain.  Every time I visit my oncologist (every 4 months) I have lab work done, if anything was to be abnormal, we would start the testing to see if my cancer had returned anywhere in my body (most likely, bones, lungs, brain).  Everytime that Dr. O tells me that my labs look great, it’s a victory, and each time I can celebrate a milestone, like a year marker, it’s a HUGE DEAL, that just means, I’m one year closer to being able to say that I truly beat breast cancer.  I know that is not the definition that Dr. O would give, but it’s what I choose to believe.  I don’t remember what my magic year mark is, I can’t ever remember to ask; so, for the rest of my life, each time that December 20th rolls around, I will celebrate.

On my first anniversary of being cancer free, the family and I went to see “Saving Mr. Banks” and then friends joined us at Cheesecake Factory for lunch, and of course, red velvet cheesecake!  I forgot to take my candle with me last year, so, of course, I had to bring a piece home so I could blow out the candle, right?  This year, my very dear friend, Alonzo (also a baker, look up Honey’s Boy Desserts) is making me a cake.  I have told him the flavor I would like, and that it just needs to have 2 pink ribbons to celebrate my 2 year birthday.  Whatever he creates will be perfect and spectacular!  Alonzo knows me so very well and every cake he has ever customized for me has been superb!  I may be the only one who eats the cake this year, and I may be the only one who celebrates this victory, this milestone, and that will be ok (I guess); however, I will PROMISE you this:  when Dr. O tells me what my magic year is (I’m planning to ask in February when I see her), and as long as I’m still cancer free, I plan to have a P-A-R-T-Y!!!  Consider this your formal invitation now.

What does this have to do with Garth Brooks?  Stay with me, I’m going to try my best to explain!

The last 2 lines of the chorus of The Dance are what speak to me the most;

Our lives are better left to chance

If we could plan out every single detail of our lives, how many of those things would we regret later on?  Would we have married our love interest we had in junior high when we thought we were so in love?  What about when we thought our lives were ruined when we did something stupid and were embarrassed because other people saw us when it happened?  Honestly, I’m glad that none of those things came true for me, if they had, I wouldn’t have met my husband, fell in love, got married and had 2 amazing sons.  My life was better left to chance, life happened and I’m so glad that it did.  It may not have always gone the way that I wanted it too (obviously, I’m writing about my breast cancer journey), hence the pain, but I’d of had to miss the dance.

I could have missed the pain

Oh the pain, the last 2 years for sure, there has been pain (mostly emotionally).  There is a saying that says “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”  really?  Who even came up with that?  I feel like at this point in my life that I should be able to bench press a hummer!  The pain of learning your mammogram is bad, the pain of fighting a family member for their supposed breast cancer pathology report, learning you actually have breast cancer, learning it’s in your lymph nodes, learning you will loose your hair, loosing your job (really a blessing in disguise), learning that your friends, really aren’t the friends you thought they were after all, living with a emotion that you just can’t figure out that finally drives you to counseling, being unable to pick up your camera, the thing that once brought so much joy to your life.  Lastly, finding out that your ideal job (company) turned out to be a horrible experience, without the pain, I would have missed the dance.

But I’d of had to miss The Dance

And what a beautiful dance it has been.  You must be thinking that I’ve lost my mind, how can breast cancer be beautiful?  I think it’s how I chose to look at it, to experience it, to live it.  I got a rare opportunity to examine myself, my raw self; to learn how to let things go, to see people truly for how they are.  I have met some AMAZING people, renewed old friendships, deepened friendships, experienced the depth of my husband’s love for me (I may have never known, really known, had it not been for my cancer).  Part of my dance has been my curly hair, walking in the Race for the Cure 5k as a Survivor, using my voice to talk about breast cancer, how it is more than a pink ribbon, experiencing the birth of my first grand child, seeing my youngest son get engaged, and now, helping other women navigate these pink waters.

I could have missed the pain, but I’d of had to miss the dance; all of these things are possible because of breast cancer!

I don’t know what my future holds, I can only promise myself that I will appreciate everything that comes my way, both good and bad, except the lessons that are given to me and continue to dance.

I hope you will too.

 

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance
Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d of had to miss the dance

Dates and More Dates

November 23, 2014

This time of year is odd for me, it starts with the month of October.

My birthday is in October, so is the date that I learned my mammo was bad (the day after my birthday); then comes November, which is when I learned that I had breast cancer, and then wham, right into December when I had the first of 6 surgeries related to my breast cancer.

The day I learned my mammo was bad is a dark sky kinda day for me anyway, it’s the birthday of my favorite cousin, Darrell.  Why is that dark?  Because he is no longer with us,  he died in May of 1988 via suicide.  I always think of him on this day, we grew up together, we lived on the same street, went to the same schools, had many of the same friends – he was the big brother I never had, he truly watched out for me, so when our birthday’s come around (October 14th and 15th) and he’s not here, my heart is automatically a bit sad – now add the news of learning my mammo was bad on that day too, it makes that dark sky kinda day into a dreary sky kinda day.  It’s hard to explain, and I don’t expect anyone to truly understand my thoughts on what this day brings to me, well, honestly, it doesn’t bring me anything anymore unless you consider sadness a gift.

I don’t remember my birthday at all last year – I mean, truly, not at all, I have ZERO memory of my birthday.  Of course, I know it happened, I have no clue if I got a gift, a card, a birthday cake – no memory.  None at all.  All I do know is that I was preparing to walk in the Komen Race for the Cure 5k a few days after my birthday, but that’s it, nothing more.

With the close of October, comes November, the season of giving thanks, and I do give thanks.  I now wake up daily giving thanks for being allowed another day on Earth, another day with my family, another day that I can be a friend, another day that I can use my story to reach other women, another day that I can cuddle with my Wall-E, another day that I can see pics of my grandson, A.  Another day to be alive and still be free of cancer.

However, November also brings the anniversary of the day I received my breast cancer diagnosis. Last year, on the 1 year anniversary, I was having a photo session through the Magic Hour Foundation.  I had written a rather scathing letter to cancer and attached it to a single pink balloon.  It was wonderful to release that letter and balloon together, watching it float away, never to return.  This year was far less exciting.  I wrote a rather calm letter to cancer, made sure I told cancer that I am still winning and plan to continue to do so.  I attached this letter to two pink balloons, to represent the two year anniversary of my diagnosis.  I thought long and hard about where I wanted to go to release the balloons.  I wanted to go to our local lake and stand on the waters edge (on the sandy beach area) to release them, sadly, that area is closed during the winter months so I was back to trying to figure out what to do.  After I bought the two balloons and had tied the letter to them, I was driving home and decided that I wanted to give cancer the respect it deserved, so I rolled the window down, and as I was driving 75 mph down the high way, the wind sucked them out, and they were gone!  I caught a glimpse of them in the rear view mirror, no remorse in how I released them, just thankful to be here to be able to do so.  I plan to do this year after year after year.  I’d like to find a special place that I can eventually go to in order to reflect and let go.  Doing this is a way for me to say “suck it cancer, I’m still here, and you’re not”.  Again, something I don’t expect others to understand, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Then it’s December, which is the anniversary of the day I had my first surgery and became cancer free (technically, I will never be cancer free since the cancer was in my lymph nodes; my correct term is NED, no evidence of disease); to me, that is a HUGE day, a day worth celebrating!  Last year on the one year anniversary (actually a few days later), my family and I went to see a movie (my choice, Saving Mr. Banks) and then to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory (friends joined us)!  I brought home a piece of red velvet cheesecake, put a #1 candle on it, took a few pics and then blew it out.  This day is a lot like a birthday to me, in many ways it’s even bigger than a birthday, it is a big milestone, to be able to say that I’m still cancer free (NED).  This year, the only plans I have are to have a cake, with my family.  Sadly, my oldest son and his family won’t be in town to celebrate with me, guess I will have to eat their cake!  My friend, Alonzo, is a baker (Honey’s Boy Desserts in Mansfield, Texas – look him up), and he does a fabulous job.  I love that he knows me so well, well enough that I can say that I need a cake for __________ to feed XX number of people and to decorate it as he wants; and it’s always perfect!  PERFECT!  Y’all should see a birthday cake he made for me several years ago!  Truly talented!

I try to keep my spirits up during all of this, I never want the darkness of cancer to take over my thoughts, I want to remain positive, but I can’t help but reflect on what has taken place the last 2 years:

Bad mammogram

Bad diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound

Two biopsies

Diagnosed with Breast Cancer (grade 2)

Got a tattoo (pink ribbons turned into feet on my right wrist)

6 surgeries (first put me at a Stage 2a with 3 positive lymph nodes

BRCA testing (negative, thank you Lord)

16 chemo treatments

33 radiation treatments with deep 2nd degree burns

Severe allergic reaction to surgical tape

The loss of a job I truly HATED (blessing in disguise)

Lost many friends, but found out who my real friends are

I put my camera (Nikon) down and still haven’t picked it up

I feel as though I have come a very long way, both mentally and physically the last 2 years.  I’ve lost things (people, job and memories/time), but I’ve gained many things too, learned lessons about myself and life that I may not have learned had it not been for cancer; for that, I am thankful.

Again, something I don’t expect others to understand.

I’m currently helping 2 women through their journey’s.  One is a new friend, her best friend reached out to me, and then I reached out to her.  She just started the second part of her chemo, which I was able to promise her would be so much easier than the first.  I like that she lives close by and I can easily check on her!  I’m super excited that next year she will be able to walk in the Komen Race for the Cure 5k and experience the significance of crossing that finish line as a SURVIVOR!

The other woman I’m helping is someone I’ve known for many years.  She was diagnosed about a year before me, but had post treatment was not handled well and because of that, her cancer is now in her bones.  I’m able to go to dr’s appointments with her, help ask questions and relay it back to her daughter who is at a new job and can’t take off just yet.  I am enjoying the time I have with P, we both understand what the other is feeling – fear, confusion, depression, fear…..fear.  She too sat her camera down and is struggling to find her passion for photography again.

I’m thankful to be able to live this new passion for helping others that I have; is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life now?  I have no idea, but I do have my eyes, ears and heart open to what God has planned for me.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve rambled long enough.  If you hear a big hoopla on December 20th, nothing is wrong, don’t be startled, it’s just me celebrating being cancer free (NED), ALIVE to love, laugh, enjoy, celebrate and follow my heart.

It’s about More Than A Pink Ribbon!

 

Life on the inside

morethanapinkribbon:

Another amazing, insightful post on my frien, Leah’s families struggle with her Daddy’s Alzheimer’s. This post is written by Leah’s sister in law. I recommend following this blog! We can all learn something from it, we never know when we may be in their shoes.

Originally posted on See The Purple Elephant:

Mike and I went to visit Dad on Saturday for the first time since he went into the nursing home. I had a bit of anxiety about how the visit would go.  Would he cry?  Would he plead with us?  Would he be depressed?  He was placed in the locked-down Alzheimer’s wing, so we know he is restricted in movement around the place. He tried to climb out a window the first night there; understandably angry, somewhat combative, and refusing his supper. The next day he stealthily followed a cleaning lady out of the locked doors to the wing, and bless his ingenuity, actually made it to the parking lot before the staff stopped him.  Unable to talk him back inside they had to call the police on a Silver Alert, and put in a call to Leah as well, who arrived and was able to talk him back inside…

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2 Years

October 15, 2014

Two years ago today I received a phone call that would alter my life.  My mammogram was bad.

I knew in that very instance that I had breast cancer.  It’s not something that I can explain, but I knew in my gut and I was terrified.  I had to sit at work for the remainder of the day, pretending to be fine, when inside, I was a mess.  I held it all together until the lights went out and I turned over to go to sleep and that’s when my world came crashing down.

I couldn’t keep the tears inside anymore, I had to openly admit how scared I was and poor Pat, I think I freaked him out.  After I was able to somewhat pull myself together, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep and he convinced me to take a sleeping pill to help me, I’m glad he did.

What happened after that……..I shut down.  The only way I would talk to anyone was via text, email or Facebook.  If you called me, I wouldn’t answer.  I put on a happy face to be at work, pretended like nothing was wrong, but inside, wow, not a good place.

Since that call 2 years ago, I have had 6 surgeries, 16 rounds of chemo, 33 rounds of radiation, suffered horrible radiation burns and most recently, a bad reaction to surgical tape/glue.  To me though, that was all easy to get through compared to the emotional healing I have had to do.

I carried around so much anger for, well, close to 2 years.  Once I finally sought out a counselor and talked through everything, I was able to recognize that even though I was angry, it was truly part of my story, part of the journey I never asked to be a part of, part of the pink ribbon society.

I don’t feel as angry as I used too.  I’m still rather fearful of the chances of the cancer returning, I’m no different than any other cancer patient in that area.  It’s something I will have to live with my entire life, but will truly trust God to protect me.  That sounds contradictory, saying that I’m fearful and that I trust God.  But it’s true.  I do trust God, more than I trust anyone else, including myself, but I am human, and I am not perfect.  I am fearful.  But, I know He will provide for me in whatever comes my way, the same way He provided for me my entire life.

I have been very vocal regarding breast cancer since my official diagnosis, it has been an outlet for me.  I may not have handled it the best way out there, but I have handled it the best way I know how.  If my being so vocal prompts a woman to get a mammogram that saves her life, well, then I know I’ve done the right thing by being so vocal.

With this being breast cancer awareness month (aka Pinktober), I just want to say that the slogans “save the tata’s” and “save 2nd base” really bug me.  I’d rather save a woman’s life than save her boobs!  Rant over!  LOL.

Anyway, two years down.  I think I’m in a much better place.  I continue to learn things about life and the people around me.  I am enjoying being a grandma, my grandson, is my prize, my reward for making it through the hardest year of my life.  He was worth it and I’m a very blessed woman.

I’m going to attend my first event tomorrow morning as a spokesperson for Komen.  I hope that I can make a impact.  Then Saturday, I will cross the finish line in the Race for the Cure as a Survivor, with my family and 2 close friends, I can’t wait!

Thank you all for following along, and remember……get your mammograms, men, encourage the women in your life to get theirs.

What family means to Daddy today

morethanapinkribbon:

My friend Leah’s blog about her family’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
Thank you for sharing your Daddy’s story with us

Originally posted on See The Purple Elephant:

I stopped in on Daddy on my way in to work this morning.  I’m extremely blessed with an understanding boss that really doesn’t care what I do as long as I let him know and get my work done.  How I got this job is another story for a different time and subject but looking back I know without a doubt that God’s hand has been all over it.

Daddy was sitting fully clothed in his chair.  His chair was moved into a position that, at first glance, I assumed was to watch television.  The only thing was, the TV wasn’t on…so he was staring at the bathroom door.  I thought maybe his roommate was in the bathroom and he was waiting for his own turn – but that wasn’t the case either.  He was simply sitting in silence staring at the bathroom door.  I wonder what he must have…

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Scars

September 23, 2014

I’m having a minor surgical procedure next week to improve upon my already fake foobs, just a little nip and tuck.  Sadly, that means more scars.

I had lunch last week with a friend of mine, who is also a breast cancer survivor, and we talked about all the dumb stuff people say, the things that really bothered us and the things we could just laugh about.

We talked about our scars.  She mentioned how when she is undressed she looks like the bride of frankenstein with all of her scars from various surgeries since her journey started 2 years ago.  Our scars tell a story.

Somewhere on my right foob, is 2 tiny scars from biopsies.  I have a scar under my right arm from where they took additional lymph nodes, longer and bigger scars under both arms from a different surgery that included when I got my nipples.  Oh, yeah, scars from the nipples too.  There are scars surrounding each foob from my mastectomy surgery.  A scar from where I got my port for chemo, and then when it was taken out.  Oh and let’s not forget the 4 scars on my tummy from having to have my ovaries removed so they wouldn’t be allowed to make any more hormones, cause, well, that would be very dangerous for me considering my cancer was 100% estrogen fed.

I don’t think about my scars daily, I guess I’m used to them.  I don’t “see” them unless I happen to stand in front of a mirror when I’m getting dressed, I don’t examine them, I prefer to not think about the physical scars, no one is going to see them anyway.

It’s the emotional scars that bother me the most, the ones you can’t see, the ones that haunt me the most.

The hormone suppressor that I’m on has various side effects, but the one that bothers me the most is the bone pain that has settled in the bottom of my right foot.  It’s on the ball of my foot and goes into my toes.  Forget wearing closed toe shoes, that really aggravates the pain, but it’s a daily reminder of what my body is going through.  I don’t need to see my physical scars to reminded that I HAD cancer, I have that freaking pain in my foot to remind me.

Then I have the glorious reminder of my eye lashes still breaking off every few months.  What the hell is that all about?  I mean come on!  I finished chemo 14 months ago, why are they still breaking?  I’m taking Biotin daily to help with hair growth.  Yet, another reminder.

Last week, one of my friends from my support group announced that her cancer had returned.  This hit me hard.  HARD.  I can’t explain why, it just did.  For a few hours, I didn’t know what would come first, the tears or the vomit.  The tears ended up coming AFTER the fear took over.  Fear of a recurrence is something that I live with, I know it is a VERY REAL possibility for me since the cancer was in my lymph nodes and it freaking scares me – honestly freaks me out.  I feel like I’m walking through a haunted house sometimes, just waiting for someone to jump out at me and say “The Cancer is Back”. Yea, I know, I know, it may NEVER come back, and I pray that it never does, but I’m human, and I’m not perfect, I still have that fear.  If it can happen to a friend, it can happen to me, right?  Anyway, after I talked with my friend, Tanyecia, I started thinking more and more about the spot in my foot.  What if it really isn’t a side effect of the hormone suppressor.  What if it’s really bone cancer in my foot?  What if I have a tumor on the bone and that’s what makes it hurt?  Oh, the imagination can do a number on the brain of a cancer survivor.  I emailed my nurse from my oncologist and was very open and told her that I needed to be talked off the crazy train I was on, that the way I was feeling right that moment, I wanted to walk into an ER and demand a pet scan and not leave until I had one, I need that reassurance that I still am classified as “no evidence of disease” (NED).  I told her all about the pain in my foot, ALL ABOUT IT.  I found myself withdrawing until my phone rang and it was Josie (nurse).  She very calmly asked me detailed questions regarding the foot pain, I knew what she was doing!  She was assessing my “symptoms” over the phone, and talking me off the crazy train (Doesn’t Ozzy Osbourne have a song called Crazy Train?).  Josie explained to me why insurance most likely wouldn’t pay for a pet scan and how my blood work will tell the best story about what is going on in my body at any given time, including my bones, my lab work has been near perfect through out this “journey” and has not waved any red flags (ok I’m taking steps off the train entrance).  While talking to Josie, I started crying, my fear started surfacing, then I think Josie really understood where this was all coming from.  She, again, talked about my perfect lab work, but that if I wanted to change my appt with Dr. O and come in earlier, she would get me in, to just let her know.  My panic attack was starting to ease and I was now standing, wobbly, on the train station platform, receiving a virtual hug from my nurse.  Emotional Scar brought to you by cancer.

I can’t imagine the crazy stories oncologist and their nurses hear on a regular basis.  They must be super saints to deal with all of our off the wall emotions, cause, let’s face it, we are all over the place on any given day.

One of the things I get to do is massage my right foob daily due to the radiation to keep the area loose.  Every few days, the area around the implant will be sore, and guess where my mind goes – oh no, the cancer has returned!  Can I feel anything, oh wait, what’s that?  oh, it’s the “pocket” where my implant sits and what I’m feeling is the ridge of my chest wall, or is it?  So, I hold off on my daily massage for a couple of days, wait for the soreness to go away, and repeat the process.  FEAR.  Isn’t this fun.  Thanks for the emotional reminder cancer, yet, another scar that no one but me can see.

Every new pain gets my attention, every.single.one.  I rub the area, trying to figure out if I can feel anything.  I avoid typing in my symptoms in a google search bar.  I know first hand how emotionally harmful that can be – do NOT google.  Let me repeat DO NOT GOOGLE.  If you do, be prepared for the emotional scars to open WIDE and all the ugliness to come spewing out, it won’t be pretty.

When I first learned my mammogram was bad (almost 2 years ago, so hard to believe), I dealt with what felt like a shit storm of emotions.  I shut down, I was so over the top scared, yet, very much pissed off at how the matter was being handled by someone in my family.  Being as mad as I was truly helped me keep my focus on that issue instead of what was about to smack me in the face with a 2×4.  The reality of that time frame brings about it’s own emotional scars, that relationship is doomed, I don’t think it will ever be repaired.  I know what I need in order for it to heal, but the other party has no idea and I’m not going to put it out there, they need to come to that conclusion on their own.  Emotional scarring at it’s best.

I went through counseling at the end of spring, beginning of summer to help me figure out what I had been feeling in regards to all the cancer stuff.  We talked about my anger (and yes, I have had some hefty anger), we talked about my lack of desire to pick up my camera (it’s been almost 2 years since I did), we talked about my new grandson and how I was feeling about being a grandma, my counselor drilled into my head that I didn’t need to let my experience with cancer take away my joy.  After one of my sessions, I was driving home and it hit me – what I was feeling was FEAR, hot, red, flaming, burning brightly, FEAR!  What if I picked my camera up again and started rebuilding my business and BAM cancer returns to take it all away from me again?  What if I don’t live long enough to see Andrew grow up?  WHAT IF???????  FEAR!!!!  I have been feeling fear this entire time.  Emotional scars.

Telling me to not worry about it is like telling a camel he can’t drink the water after a 7 day trek in the desert.  I know from speaking with other survivors that the fear will get better, and never truly goes away, I’m more than ready to get to the other side of fear so I feel like I can truly regain control over ALL aspects of my life, without the daily reminders of cancer…….like dry eye, messed up vision, the pain in my foot, the multitude of pills I now take.

Emotional Scars are just as real as the physical scars.  Even though I look “fine” from the outside, my hair has grown back in, rather curly, I have hair.  I’m no longer flat chested, I have some decent looking foobs.  You can look at me and never know that I walked through the fire of breast cancer, but I have emotional scars that run deep.  When I see posts by others about how deodorant causes cancer, or how drug companies purposely withhold a cure because of the money they are making, or that mammograms really don’t do that much for detecting breast cancer (um, HELLO, I’m still here because of a mammogram), or this causes cancer, or that causes cancer, you get the idea.  It really angers me, why?  Because not all of it is true.  Deodorant does NOT cause breast cancer.  If it did, then why don’t more men get breast cancer?  They use deodorant and they also have boobs!  I can’t believe that my oncologist would spend as much time researching breast cancer as she does if there was truly a cure and the drug companies are holding back so they could make more money.  My oncologist is very well known in the breast cancer community.  I did extensive research on her when I knew I needed a medical oncologist, she is a highly sought after speaker, researcher, doctor, etc.  No one will ever be able to convince me that drug companies are keeping a cure under their money belt, nope, won’t do it.  There would have to be some type of test that determines there is a rogue cell out there that is going to throw a party in the body and invite other cells to attend until they form a tumor.  Shouldn’t they be able to do that AT BIRTH?????  When I see, or hear, these type of statements, my anger scar splits open.  I’m learning to control that one more and more as the days go forward.  I know the talks I have with my oncologist, I know what she has found from her research (and trust me, I DID ask about deodorant), I know what happens in the exam room, I know what she’s looking for in my lab work, I have educated myself and wish others would too.

Anyway, when you look at me and see that physically, I look fine, I show no outer signs of breast cancer, just remember this………..

Emotional Scars are harder to treat than physical scars, but they exist just the same.