Cancer as a Crutch – WHAT?????

January 28, 2015

The last couple of weeks have been somewhat trying for me, for some of the things that have come up, I’ve bit my tongue, kept my thoughts to myself, but then there are a few that I didn’t.  Ok, not really a few, but you understand.

Last week, I was having a particularly hard day with my joints, my hips and the bottom of my feet were hurting pretty badly; my guess is that even though I thought the neuropathy was gone, it isn’t, so I posted on Facebook as to what I believe are some misconceptions regarding people who have had, or currently have cancer.  I got some negative feedback on that post; one person even said I was using cancer as a crutch and then proceeded to post elsewhere about women missing the attention when they were in active treatment, I took that as a jab at me, and yes I spoke up.  I was very aggravated by this comment, and there were some who saw the comments and felt the same way that I did, attacked and aggravated.

I have been very vocal in regards to my diagnosis, surgeries, chemo, radiation and hormone suppressor treatment; partly because it has helped me to deal with what I have and am going through; then on the flip side of that coin is my desire to help others who are facing the sea of pink, whether they are a cancer patient, a care giver or a support person.

You see, breast cancer is about more than a pink ribbon, after all the surgeries are over, the hair has grown back and the radiation burns have healed – the average (or in this case, me) person is not done, they don’t get to go back to their old life pre-cancer, life becomes a new normal, so let’s talk about that briefly.

First, there is the emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis takes on you, both mentally and physically.  I was a mess, and I do a complete mess from the day I learned my mammogram was bad until a few days after I received my diagnosis.  I shut down.  The only way I would talk to someone was via text, email or Facebook chat.  I would go to work and that was it, I wouldn’t cook, do laundry, etc.  I shut down in a serious fashion.  I went through a lot emotionally in that month of not knowing and it took it’s toll on me.

Second, I had 6 different surgeries related to my breast cancer.  SIX!  That’s six times of being put under anesthesia, six times that I had to recover, six times I fought through the pain because I didn’t want to give into the pain pills (I’m stubborn like that); six times we seriously scrubbed surgical tape and glue off my body, with the last time leaving me with a horrible reaction and burn from the surgical tape, I was more miserable from that than the actual surgery.

Third, 16 rounds of chemo.  The first 4 rounds went like this:  Every 3 weeks I went in and was pumped full of steroids before my chemo was administered; I would come home and be awake for a little over 24 hours before being able to sleep, which led into my 5, yes, FIVE day chemo crash, or as I called it, chemocoma.  I literally slept for 5 times straight with a rare times of being awake long enough to use the bathroom and eat something small.  Repeat in 3 weeks.  Long term effects of chemo…….compromised immune system and chemo brain (memory loss).

Fourth, 34 rounds of radiation, which I started exactly 6 days after finishing chemo.  I ended up with some very nasty burns on the side of my breast, I did give in and take pain pills, just so I could sleep.  The burns were deep, I had big blisters, the skin was just about black and finally peeled.  Because of the radiation, I now have to massage my breast daily to keep scar tissue from building up and the implant drawing up and becoming smaller.  I am told this is very painful if it happens and cuts down the chances of having the implant replaced.  I recently learned that because of the radiation, I am now at a higher risk for skin cancer.  I’m having a small spot on my chest looked at this Friday by a dermatologist for what Dr. Google and I have diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma.

Fifth, hormone suppressors.  I am now on the last of the 3 available drugs I can take to keep my hormones from turning others into estrogen, once this last one stops working, or I can’t handle the side effects any longer, I have to start all over (Femara, Arimidex and Aromasin).  Each one has it’s own side effects, so it became the lesser of two evils, what can my body handle best……right now, we are going with bone/joint pain and neuropathy.

Sixth, I will forever have a compromised immune system.  I recently had a upper respiratory infection, the fatigue was horrible.  When I asked my oncologist about it, she said that isn’t unusual.  This concerns me, what will happen if I get really sick, say with the flu, or even pneumonia.  I can’t imagine the fatigue that will come with one of those.

So, you see, the average person may look at me and think I’m all better now that I’m finished with everything, when in reality, I’m far from it.  I’ll never be 100% better, and that sucks for not only me, but for my family too. I can’t begin to count, or try to grasp the number of times I have had a conversation with them, then turned around and asked the exact same question because I don’t remember the conversation that we JUST HAD.  Can you imagine just how frustrating that is for me, and them too?

The memory loss is just as frustrating for me, personally, as the bone/joint pain is.  Both things hold me back.  For instance, if something isn’t a repetitive thing, I forget unless I write it down, or more seriously, put it in my phone with an alarm.  I don’t know how to make others understand what this is like, it’s not something I choose to have in my life, or use as an excuse, it’s MY truth, my absolute truth.

I wish to God that cancer had never came into my life, but it did, and I am damn proud of how I handled myself.  I fought hard to get where I am now.  I have often times wondered what my purpose in life is, and I think being there to help others navigate this sea of pink is my calling.  I’m going to dr’s visits with one friend who is a breast cancer survivor with mets to the bone, I’ve been asked to reach out to someone I’ve never met after they were diagnosed, I’ve been contacted when a mammogram comes back bad, I’ve been asked how someone can help someone they love through breast cancer; and I’ve been called when a routine test showed something abnormal.

Yep, I use cancer as a crutch.

It is my hope and pray, that my story, my being so honest and vocal will help another woman through, gives her someone to talk to that understands.  It is my hope that I can help a care giver, loved one or support person understand what their loved one is actually going through, you see, it never truly ends and to insinuate we (I) use it as a crutch or dwell on it is really a slap in the face.

My advice to you, unless you are living inside the cancer patients body, experience their thoughts, feelings, pain; are in the surgery rooms, hear word for word what the oncologist says, takes those hormone suppressors and experiences the side effects – don’t pass judgement, don’t take jabs, try to understand; cancer is hard enough to navigate with out negativity being forced on us when we are doing our best to remain positive.

I am one hell of a fighter, I’m strong willed, I’m determined and I never back down from a good fight, I kicked cancers ass after all!  But what I won’t tolerate is being judged when someone doesn’t truly know the situation.

I know my circle, and I know my truth – God and I know and that is all that truly matters.  If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you ask him when you stand in judgement.

Letting go of my anger over this now.

Carry on and remember – it’s about more than a pink ribbon

PS – if you want to follow someone who really talks about breast cancer, look up Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer on Facebook and the web, watch her feed then tell her she uses it as a crutch, let me know how that works for you.

 

Deep in the Heart of……..

January 8, 2015

I bet you thought I was gonna say TEXAS!  Uh nope, not this time.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had my genetic testing for the BRAC gene, I had to gather as much family cancer history as possible.  I already knew that 3 of my 4 grandparents died from cancer.

Maternal Grandfather: prostrate and bone

Maternal Grandmother:  breast and lung

Paternal Grandmother: colon, skin and stomach

Doesn’t look so great for me, huh?

Anyway, what does that have to do with being deep in the heart of???????

Well, lucky me, my oncologist gave me a 2 year deadline to get my first colonoscopy (BEFORE I turn 50) done.  My deadline is up in July.  As much as I dread the prep part of the procedure, I dread the time frame I have to wait to hear “all clear” more.  Those seconds will probably feel like weeks, those minutes like years.  This will be my first “big test” since completing all of my treatments.  I can admit to feeling anxious about the whole process, in the “cancer world” this is referred to as scan anxiety.

As I drove home from work today, I was thinking that I might need a xanax to calm my nerves going into the procedure, but then I remembered the dreaded clean out and how it probably won’t stay in my system anyway.  Oh the joys!  This is gonna be super fun!  I’ve only been on my new job a month and I’m so thankful that my boss didn’t even flinch when I told her I needed to take the day before off, she is 100% aware of my cancer and everything related to it, she knows about my blog and encouraged me to continue it when I was thinking about taking it down.  Too bad this is just a contract position cause I’m really enjoying the people I work with and what I’m doing, not to mention I get to ride to and from work with my husband!

Well, there it is, the next part of my cancer journey.  As much as I am scared, no, terrified, of those few seconds until the dr tells me that I am indeed NOT full of you know what and that I will remain cancer free, I really must say that I wish my boys would be here to receive the payback of the gas leaving my body for all the times that they have “blessed me” with their own.  Of course, I’m sure they would find a way to make fun of me for it since they know how much I hate it, picking on me is what they do, but that’s ok, I know they love me and I’m just thankful to still be here to be picked on!

 

Deep in the heart of…………TEXAS!

Never the Same

January 1, 2015

When my journey started, I quickly realized, having cancer changed me.  Not in many ways I can explain, as I’m still learning myself, but it changed me.  I hope by sharing this little bit about myself that it will help others to understand the transformation that cancer patients go through.  Some of the changes are very noticeable, while others are very subtle; some changes are physical, while many are emotional changes.

 

The morning I received the call that my mammogram was bad changed me, I became scared, an emotion that I don’t experience very often.  I will never be the same.

The morning I received my official diagnosis of breast cancer changed me, I truly feared for my life.  I learned that I had cancer, no one knew how bad it was, how advanced, what would happen, we knew nothing other than cancer was alive in my body.  I was terrified, something I don’t recall ever experiencing in my life.  I will never be the same.

Waking up after my double mastectomy to learn that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes brought a new level of fear.  Had it spread?  Was I going to be ok?  Was I going to die?  I will never be the same.

Having my husband bathe me in the days following my mastectomy was truly beautiful,  he served me, he honored his wedding vows and he demonstrated the depths of his love with each tender touch.  I experienced his pure love in those days.  I will never be the same.

Loosing my hair allowed me to experience the raw me, it allowed me to look past my hair and see ME.  Being bald was freeing, it stripped away the outer layers that we see and allowed me to look inside at what makes me, well me.  I will never be the same.

Having memory issues has changed me.  It’s the little things that leave me frustrated.  If I don’t do something on a regular basis, a repetitive nature, or do it at the exact moment I think of it, I forget.  Those things might as well of never entered my thought process, it’s like they never existed to begin with.  It’s very frustrating when it’s pointed out to me, or by pure luck, I realize what it is that I forgot.  There are basis tasks that used to be no big deal, but now I struggle with…basic math being one of them.  I have trouble understanding and making sense of simple things, it’s very frustrating and I will never be the same.

Every time I opened my mailbox and found a card, a small gift, a act of love allowed me to see the kindness of people that I might have never seen had it not been for cancer.  They reached out to me from the goodness of their souls.  I will never be the same.

Each time I go to the dr now, have lab work done, a physical (chest) exam done, causes me to pause, hold my breath and wait for the all clear results.  Going to the dr now means I will never be the same.

Waking up to a new ache/pain makes me question, is the cancer back?  Is it in my bones now?  Why does this hurt?  Having these new phantom pains means that I will never be the same.

There isn’t a day that goes by that cancer isn’t somewhere in my thoughts, there are reminders e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.  Reminders include the achy joints in my knees and ankles; the additional medicines I now take (vitamin e, biotin, aromasin, gabapentin) on a daily basis; the scars I see on my chest when I change clothes; the daily massage of my radiated breast with vitamin e oil that I must do to keep the scar tissue/skin from becoming too tight; each time my eye lashes break off, my very curly hair that I didn’t have prior to cancer; not being able to find a bra that actually fits properly.  These are just a few of the things that serve as reminders of having cancer and this journey I have gone through.  I will never be the same.

Although there have been many changes in my life, they are not all bad.  I fear dr’s appt.’s when I never did before, but walk out rejoicing each time I get the all clear.  I have learned to celebrate ME, when in the past I always put my husband and kids before myself, I’ve learned to make myself a priority.  I’ve learned to stop and appreciate the beauty around me, the beauty that has always been there, the beauty that I was too busy living life to stop and see.  I’ve learned look deep inside myself and discover what is truly important to me.  I’ve learned to accept apologies I will never receive.  I’ve learned to step away from the things/people that don’t fulfill me, that don’t bring warm fuzzies in my life, that don’t nourish my soul.  I’ve learned to let things go when in the past I would have spoken my mind.  I will never be the same.

I’ve learned to fully trust God.  I will never be the same.

I believe that we can all go through life transformations, and we will probably never understand what others are experiencing, feeling, etc.  My transformation came in the form of a pink ribbon and I don’t expect anyone to fully understand the changes I have gone through.  All I can say is that I am a changed person and I will never be the same.

 

 

 

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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