Saturday, December 31, 2011

a reflection on 2011

One year ago, I was in the middle of 3 weddings. Working, being a mommy, just starting my Mary Kay business, coasting through a pretty normal, happy, seemingly healthy life. I didn't give much thought to my health and had no idea what the coming year would bring. If you told me then what would happen in May, I wouldn't have believed you. Looking back, it's hard to believe what the past 7 months has brought. This year started off innocently enough as we prepared for Rick and Courtney's wedding, brought the birth of Bradley and learned that Austin was on his way. I still find it funny that the last pictures of me and my family before cancer are of me in a pink dress. Seems so ironic, and the picture taken by Tammy and Ryan at my brother's nuptials has become nearly iconic for my family at this point.

Now, my world has changed. I had a year of challenges, both physical and emotional. One which included not only me, but my mother getting diagnosed with breast cancer. A year where we went from zero family history, to one considered a strong history. A year when awareness went from being just a fleeting thought to a practical obession and a way of life. It was also a year of blessings. Aside from the new wonderful people that joined our family, it also was a year where I learned to appreciate what we have. A year to realize how much love and support I have. A year to learn about a talent that lied long-hidden. A year to make a difference in the lives of others.

I may never quite embrace my cancer or ever be happy that it intruded so rudely into my world, but I cannot let it win, physically or emotionally. I need to keep fighting back for myself and my family. I have to continue to find ways to make cancer work for me, for it to fuel me to be a better person. I have said it before, fear can be a great motivator. To look at the awesome gifts and opportunities we have been given and to find ways to make the most of what we have.

So, as I stand at the door of 2012, I have learned the lesson that I cannot predict the future. I just know that I will do whatever I can to get the most out of life, to love as much as I can, and to not take my health for granted. I pray that this year brings me and mom the words "cancer-free" and that we can begin a new journey in a healthier life to enjoy for many years to come.

Friday, December 30, 2011

More surviving

I was thinking yesterday about survivorship. (is that a word?) and also about the article I wrote for coping magazine. It will be printed sometime this spring. It's funny because I included all of the things I had survived up until the point it was written, which was a lot, but certainly, since then, I have survived much more. I thought I would update the list:
  • I survived 4 emergency room trips (including a very romantic trip on our 7th wedding anniversary)
  • I survived 4 AC chemos and 4 Taxols
  • I survived scrambling to hunt down Taxol and managed to find it and get treated without missing any treatment time
  • I survived cancelling our Disney trip due to chemo side effects
  • I so far have survived 18 radiation treatments, including radiation burns in the esophagus
  • I have survived getting passed the totally bald look, and am now entering Sinead O'Connor territory
  • I survived going back to work full time while still in treatment (or at least 18 cycles so far)
  • I survived having my doctor tell me I was losing weight to fast and to stop (now I am waiting for him to tell me I am gaining it back to fast)
  • and I survived learning that someone I love has joined the ranks of the breast cancer sisterhood. I survived the anger of feeling like she has suffered enough watching me and doesn't deserve to have to go through this now too. and I know she will survive it all too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The funny thing about history...

is that its being written every day. A year ago, I had no family history of breast cancer. But this year, history was made. Not in the way I would have liked, but we don't control what happens to us. We only control what we do with what we are given. Sometimes, that just means fighting like hell, fighting like a girl.

History also gets made by constantly evolving research. Every day, something new is learned. A new way to treat, a new way to save lives. For example, recently, there was research regarding the impact of osteoporis drugs on the treatment and improvement of survival rates particularly in premenopausal women like me. Woohoo!! Oh Dr Waintraub...

The good news is, there is much hope in breast cancer. I still wish it didn't exist in this world. I still hate it. I wish it stayed far away from me and my family. But I also am glad to be cut from a strong breed of women. We women of faith keep pushing forward and we do all we can to defeat this beast. I just wish we didn't have to.

2011 was the year when breast cancer came charging in, rude and unwelcome. 2012 however, will be the year it goes away, and when fear subsides, and there is nothing but pride and love left in its place. 2012 is the year we will be victorious!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cancer - the unwelcome house guest.

The way I see it, cancer is just an unwelcome, unyeilding house guest. It came without an invitation, has long since worn out its welcome. It has disrupted my life in countless ways.  I think one of the things that bugs me the most is the fact that cancer just gets in the way of everything. I am grateful that I am in a position to be receiving treatment, but it pisses me off that it is interfering with my christmas shopping time, interfering with my ability to enjoy a nice lunch with friends or colleagues. Radiation is going fine, but it's just a big pain in the butt to have to go every single day. 11 down, 17 to go!

It also bugs me that it's going to take a long time for my hair to grow back. I know that sounds vain, but it's not that, it's more the point that I don't look well this way. I can't wait until I have enough hair to not have to worry about having something covering my head when I leave the house. I can't wait to look more human, more healthy. My hair is definitely coming in, so I know all in good time.

Tonight, I am just frustrated and fed up with this whole experience. I had a good weekend. It didn't ruin that, but for some reason tonight, I am mad at cancer... Maybe it's because of the loss of a dear neighbor due to it this past weekend. Maybe it's because you never know when it's going to sneak up on someone you love. Maybe it's because it exists at all. Yup. I think that is it. I hate the fact that cancer exists at all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

it's all good

I have had about 10 people(including my husband) ask if I was ok because I haven't posted in a while! I have to admit, it was so nice to know people were still looking for the posts. All is going ok here. The reason for the lack of posting is purely exhaustion. Going back to work and starting radiation at the same time took a lot out of me. It's going well, it's just a huge uptick in activity.

Since I last posted, here are some fun things that have happened. You all know I am being published in Reader's Digest. That will be available on book shelves February 14th, and sure, for those of you who want autographs, I'd be happy to oblige! Haha. I have been good about going to the gym, and changing my diet. I have lost 3.5 pounds so far which is a decent start. I did my first race this past Sunday. It was only a mile, and I couldn't run the whole thing which made me feel pretty lame, but at least I did it. I guess it's not bad for being only a month from chemo.

Generally speaking, I am just trying to get my life back on track and somewhat back to normal. It's starting to feel familiar and comfortable again. I am less cancer-centric, which is wonderful. I still need your prayers as my war against cancer is far from over. In fact, it may never truly be over, even if I am declared cancer-free at some point in the future.