Have you ever been glad to be right where you are? I am! I would not want to repeat last year for anything but… I was right in the thick of breast cancer treatment and the road ahead was to be long, and filled with procedures, surgeries and all the accompanying tears. But it has not all been difficult!
I met new people along the way! Everyone of them were fantastic in their own way. I have new lifelong friends, I am sure. Although the journey was scary and at times very painful, I made it through and as of July 27th, I appear to be cancer free. NED…it’s what every cancer survivor wants on her chart. No Evidence of Disease.
I found out who my friends were, and I watched people walk away. But I found out who was there for the duration. Who didn’t judge. Who cared. I found fascinating writers who were more than willing to help me on the pink path (oh there is that word…pink)! I found geeks who reached out to me in support both psychologically, spiritually and financially. Old friends did fund raisers. New friends sent cards, checks and food in abundance. One friend bought me a new computer! People were good My previous neighbors, Pat and Lee brought flowers (many times) and sent cards and showed up! I love them! Lee died two weeks ago, and a big hole has been left in my life but I smile when I think of him. My life was so blessed to have known him.
One friend, Sam set up this blog and motivated me to start recovery. And what surprised me is the wonderful people who I have had in my life all along, who resurfaced and were there for me. Scott cooked me dinners on Sunday which gave me strength for the procedure week to come! A new neighbor walked by everyday and came to talk to me while we had our puppies out in my yard. My two wonderful dogs who were vigilantly by my side the entire time! Thank you to all of you. I couldn’t have done it without you.
My wonderful medical team who expressed support and knowledge was very good. Thanks to Virginia Mason Hospital who provided a warm, safe place with terrific staff. I am sure there are many I have forgotten.
And there were my new online friends who are on their own journey. I have learned that I can make a difference in people’s lives and never have to meet them in person (but that would be nice).
Breast cancer can touch your lives in ways that you totally would not believe unless you get the experience. So I won’t say it was all bad. It is a part of the journey of life for me. I wake up each day just thankful to be on this side of the grass . Oh yes it is not all roses, and I worry sometimes about things but I try not to ‘sweat’ the small stuff. The rent will get paid. It comes from somewhere at the most unexpected times.
Physically I spent the summer trying to gather strength. I was so weak in May. I could barely walk from my house to the clubhouse which is about a block. By the end of the summer, I was running in a 5k and swimming 30 laps in the pool nonstop. Somewhere I reached inside and got the strength to get out there and do it. To keep cancer away, it is important to exercise and eat right. I am trying.
The hair loss thing is always a hard one. I don’t know why but it is awful for me, to have hair loss. Mine did not all fall out but to lose the top and one side looked so bad. No I didn’t get like some people and shave it off. I just hung on to what I had until about August and then I cut it short. The back came back thick. The sides…not so much. but everyday the hair is getting better. I turned so gray. But, I got rid of that. Each person has to decide for themselves what they will put up with and orange thin hair with half gray, did not do it for me. Thank god for good hair dressers! My hair is now all grown back, healthier and the original brown.
What is hard to deal with? The physical appearance is a constant reminder of cancer. The scars and the physical mirror image is scary as hell. Did you notice that the word scary has scar inside it? Hmmm probably not a coincidence. I have not had reconstruction. The oncologist wanted me to postpone it for a year. Need I tell you why? It might come back. Oh boy ….not going to worry. People tell me to just put it in God’s hands. Oh yes, right. Look how that turned out so far. But I will. Everyday is a choice. Looking ahead, not backward.
The doctor’s appointments still continue. They always seem to be looking for something or checking something. The oncologist I see every three months. It’s amazing how when I get in his office I forget everything that I wanted to ask. Yes I write it down. Then I forget the paper. I forget everything. In a way, that is okay to. I find myself not fretting about things because I forget them. I don’t care about anything to long because I just forget. Oh…..medications…blessing or curse?
Do I feel guilty? No I feel fortunate. Why would I feel guilty? Because I survived. Because I didn’t have radiation? But I chose mastectomy instead. It isn’t an easy road. Because so many others did not survive.
I quit writing for awhile because it was easier. But now I have to find my ‘mission’. I need to find my place. What did this all do for me? Where am I suppose to go? What is the next chapter? How can I help someone else. How do I continue to help myself. What is on my bucket list?
I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I don’t know how to explain it. I giggle at the dog in the morning who loves her belly scratched. Other than the first 15 minutes in the morning she wants no affection. But those first moments are glorious. My older dog Shadow has gone deaf this summer but the look on her face when we make eye contact is worth the sun and the moon. We connect.
I found people who really care. I found that I really care. I connected with life.
I dive into the Redmond pool and even though it might be a belly flop it feels fantastic. My arm is starting to wake up and in the pool I feel like a whole person!! The water knows no limits. and I feel like a fish! I am happy and home in the water. It had been years since I had been swimming and I found physically how much I am connected to the exercise. It brings me great peace.