Not sure if it was hell or purgatory, but the last few months certainly have been rough. However, I do believe I am coming out of it for the better. I have shed some things in the process, but I have gained more than I lost. Here is what I have learned:
- Be your own health advocate. Doctors have your best interests in mind, but they don't necessarily know what is best for you. If something doesn't seem right, you should speak up. If you aren't getting the attention you think you deserve, say something or seek someone who will give you that attention. You do deserve it, and there is no reason to settle for less than you deserve.
- Kids are more resilient than you expect. My son handled my illness with a surprising compassion and remained fairly unphased by my illness throughout.
- Kindness often comes from unexpected sources. While the ones closest to me were naturally wonderful and supportive, some of my greatest boosts came out of the blue from long lost friends or family, coworkers, and acquaintances. Many of these people exhibited such kindness that it warmed my heart.
- I am blessed with the most amazing parents, husband, family and friends in the world. Seriously, the whole world.
- Keeping emotions in is just not healthy. It's no less dangerous than leaving a tumor in. Venting it out and facing the feelings are the only way to successfully move past them.
- People cope with trauma differently. In my case, I choose to be open and share what I have experienced, the good, the bad, the ugly. I am finding it helps others, and that in turn helps me. But I realize my approach isn't for everyone.
- I am one tough broad.
- I have always lived by the mantra of "if not me, then who? if not now, then when?" I continued this philosphy through my cancer treatment, and find that it serves my soul well.
- Fear is an amazing motivator. It used to be an obstacle, now, it's a great catalyst.
- I am not defined by my physical appearance, I am defined by my heart and a soul.
- There are stupid people in this world. They may say stupid things. I'm pretty sure there is a special brand of karma that handles people who pick on cancer patients.
- After fighting a diagnosis like mine, you realize how much you can accomplish, and that everyone has the ability to make a difference. It's all a matter of putting yourself out there and making an impact in this world.
- Survivors are an amazing breed. There is something so special about someone who has faced this beast and come out victorious.
- Laugh as much as you can! It's a massage for the soul.
- Treatment can be so daunting in the beginning. To be truthful, there were times along the way that I wasn't sure how I could endure. But endure I did, and nothing made me happier than seeing the words "infusion complete" on my iv machine today! Donna and I both cried.
- If you are thinking something of saying something kind or encouraging to someone, do so. It will make them feel good. Trust me. There's the old adage, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. I suggest the flip side: if you have something nice to say, open your mouth and let it out.
Oddly enough, just as my infusion completed today, positive outlook on Facebook posted this quote: "That even tears shed in times of tribulations they bring a gift of strength in later years". A sign? I don't know, but I will take it.