Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hurray for progress

Today was a happy day for me. I went accessory shopping (which my new found penchant for accessories is a rather fun cancer side effect) on my lunch hour. It was delightful to be out in the gorgeous, warm weather soaking up my vitamin D. Anywho, while in Claires (yes, i know most of their stuff is for kids), I was thrilled to realize that there are some hair clips that actually will grab onto my hair! HURRAY FOR HAIR GROWTH! It's the little things that I appreciate now. It's nice to move further and further from treatment, and I hope I never have to take a return trip.
My hair definitely looks like I might have gone with this style on purpose now which is nice. People are kind and complimentary about it, but I cannot deny the fact that I am really looking forward to having a ponytail again! Oh what a happy dance I will do when that day comes!
Next week is my follow up with Doctor Warden. It has been 9 months since my mastectomy... HOLY CRAP! In six weeks, the one year anniversary of my diagnosis will be here. That is ridiculous! What a wild, crazy year filled with tears, laughs and just plan craziness.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living in the present

This has always been a challenge for me, even before cancer. In some ways, it has been to my benefit in the past. Always thinking about the future, planning about what I would do with my career, preparing for whatever the next step would be for my family. Perhaps it gave me a feeling of control over my own destiny. Perhaps it gave me motivation to keep working hard at my/our goals. Or perhaps it was just me being unpatient. Either way, it's how my brain operated. Many a times, I would look forward to the next step, and often not think about the here and now. It's hard to really appreciate the present when you spend your energy focused on what's coming down the pike.
Having been diagnosed with cancer, that sort of forward thinking causes more stress than good. It fosters and feeds a fear of the unknown. Anyone who knows me knows that by nature, I am a pretty optimistic person. One very unfortunate side effect of my disease is its muting of the optimism I was so used to. I found that one of my bigggest hurdles mentally was to stop focusing on the what if. It is hard because truthfully, once you have the unknown sneak up and ambush you, it's impossible to not suffer some sort of emotional trauma. It becomes a learned behavior to focus on the unknown and anticipate when it will rear it's ugly head again. It's hard to not worry about what will happen next.
But I do realize this isn't any way to live. I have spent a significant amount of time and energy learning how to focus on today. I felt like yesterday, I had a break through in that area. I was sitting at my desk at work and started worrying about my upcoming appointments with my surgeon and oncologist. I worried about what would happen if they run scans and the results are less than desirable... In that moment, I thought to myself, so what. I can't let what may or may not happen in a month from now. There is a part of me that wants very much to have answers. But there is a part of me that is learning to accept that being in that limbo place between appointments is nice. Right now, I am acting as if I am cancer free. And in this moment, I am able to do a decent amount. I am physically well enough to work, to do Mary Kay, to spend time with my family, to help plan the Wellness walk in support of the Cancer Support Community (ahem, have you signed up to join me yet??), and well enough to exercise. Those are all blessings in this moment. I need to enjoy them.
The truth is, I pray constantly about my future and ask for wellness, and I am working towards that end as much as possible. But I can't let my forward looking ways distract me from enjoying my present. I am glad to have a clear enough mind to write. I am glad to have an able enough body to do what I please. I am glad to enjoy the blessings and be hopeful about my future. I am glad to work where I do and to be able to contribute to the capacity that I do. I am glad to have a loving husband and the most beautiful little boy to keep me smiling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Today is a good day. I am 35 and I am a cancer survivor. Not a bad gig after all! Funny how randomly yesterday, I saw this commercial Yes, I cried.. Not because it's Ricky Martin... but because it's a little more real than it was when the commercial was first aired.

I will be grateful for ever 3/14 that comes along. May there be another 50 of them. Come on, how cute will I be as a little 85 year old?? Friggin adorable I bet. I will shrink because of the early menopause. So picture it, me 4'6 carrying around a little purse wearing glasses. I envision being a little like Sophia from the Golden Girls... ahhh.

A friend has requested prayers. She is having some testing done today on a lump or two that she found. Please keep her in your prayers.

Also, I just wanted to say how amazing people can be. In the past two weeks, I have heard from people I know, people who know people that I know, and complete strangers about the Reader's Digest article. It's so wonderful to hear how it touched people. One such example was the most beautiful card from a bunch of Mary Kay women in New England who read my article at one of their weekly meetings. And the other was a bracelet I recieved from a woman who owns her own jewelry making company. She read my article and sent me a pink ribbon bracelet just so I would know someone was thinking of me. Pretty awesome and touching!!

It's been an amazing experience so far. Life continues to be good despite bumps in the road. Mom is coming along. She had her second infusion monday. I suspect today will be kind of crappy for her. Please keep her in your prayers. She's a tough cookie, and will get through this, but prayers and love are definitely appreciated. And pray for Dad too. I know this is tough on him. And of course, pray for me, just because.

So here's to another 50 3/14's with cake for me!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sometimes I just get angry

I do try my best to always be positive, and look at all the good that has come as a result of the disease. And although I consider myself to be pretty well skilled in the positiving thinking arena, sometimes I just can't help but get angry. So as much as I try, I hate that cancer ever came into my life. I hate that it is still in my life. I hate that it doesn't give me a choice. (We were not allowed to say "hate" growing up in my house, but I believe this is the one time when it's truly warranted!)

Cancer is rude, intrusive, loud and disruptive. It doesn't care that we are good people. It doesn't care that we loved our lives the way they were. It doesn't care that it's not a good time for such chaos. It doesn't care that my mother has been about as good of a christian as one could possibly be. It still crashes the party and has long overstayed its welcome.

It tests your stamina. It tests your faith. It tests your relationships. It tests your mental fortitude. Many times we pass those tests, but sometimes we don't. Sometimes we just get tired of it all. It is a little unfair that we got hit with this disease in a double header fashion in my family (ok, maybe that is an understatement). We had less than two weeks between active treatment periods. That's hardly a break period! Trust me, it takes much longer than that to recover from the trauma that is cancer.

Forgive the negative emotions, but they are all a genuine part of this process. Cancer isn't pretty, and sometimes, I let its ugliness take over for a bit.

But this too shall pass.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus... or something like that.

Yes, Momma, you will feel normal again.

I know the feeling well. You feel like you just can't shake the fog and the blah feeling. But you will. I promise. I know that it's demoralizing when you just don't feel well enough to do things you once did with ease. It's aggrevating that when you feel slightly better, and you have this burst of hope that things are getting better, you crash and burn. It's annoying that you just can't seem to shake the side effects.

I remember dreading swallowing liquids because my throat was more in repell mode more than inject mode. Sometimes, you just don't feel like doing the things that are good for you. Getting up and doing something basic for ten minutes feels like a day full of chores. It's just plain exhausting. It seems like it never will end.

But it will end. It just takes time. I am certain that never in your life will you more wish for a remote control to fast forward through time than you do now. I remember. And I feel that way now too. Unfortunately, crosses aren't easy to bear. But that's life. And when the cross gets too heavy, lean on us, or take a nap. There's nothing wrong with sleeping away this nightmare. Just remember, in the end, you will be victorious, and really, that's all that matters.

Life will feel normal for you again sometime soon. Aside from this foray into being on the caregiver side now, my life is starting to pick up where it left off. I am back to work full time, including travel. My Mary Kay business is doing great, all because I am able to work at it again. Steven is thriving (and dare I say, finally pretty close to being potty trained. Not one accident today! Yippee!)

So hang in there, Mom. The road is long, but you will not walk it alone. And the sun will be shining when you get to the other side of this. In the meantime, let our love carry you through.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The worst of the first

Mom is halfway through round one of chemo. I think the worst of the first is behind her. It's not been the most fun week of her life but she is a trooper and will be ok. It's been rough on dad to see her go through this. I know he always knew how much he loved her but I do think this makes him really appreciate her (come on Briamontes, say it with me "I appreciate ya!). The road ahead is steep but she will do this. She's a strong survivor.

It is very strange for me to watch. I understand everything she is experiencing. It's surreal in a way. It's like weird deja vu kind of dream Except This time I'm watching it instead of living it. It's almost like an out of body experience.

Anyway, please keep us all in your prayers as we continue to push forward. Every prayer means so much.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My birth month

March has arrived! Last March, I didn't give much thought to my age or my life or how many more birthdays I would have. I cannot deny that this year is a little different. I now see my birthday as it's own gift to me. When you have a battle with cancer, you can't help but be cognizant of your own mortality, and of the fact that life just is unpredictable and potentially short. I remember the first time I saw an American Cancer Society commercial where they called themselves "the official sponsor of birthdays". I got a bit teary eyed because I thought what a beautiful and frightning statement... That was long before I knew it applied to me.

This year, I turn 35. My mid-thirties! If things were different, I might have lamented that age. But now I embrace it. I am happy to be turning 35, because I am happy to be here to see it. I continue to pray that I beat this disease. Remember, that I have finished treatment, but I have not officially beaten this disease. I am certainly a survivor, but cancer is always a risk for me now. Moreso than for someone else. I still haven't had a scan since before the mastectomy. I am operating under the assumption that I am cancer free, but the reality is, I don't know that for sure. But then again, does anyone really know that about themselves? No, they don't (not to frighten anyone, it's just a fact).

The truth is, I have no idea what lies ahead. I could be here for another 50 years, or another 5. That's not for me to decide. That's in God's hands. I hope and pray that he goes for the bigger number, and in the meantime, I will do the best I can to be healthier so my body stays as strong as it can. It goes back to the whole concept of "I work like it's all up to me, and pray like it's all up to Him". That's about the best anyone can do, right?

I personally plan on celebrating every birthday I have coming. And I plan on being happy about getting older. I am grateful for that opportunity. Yes, my hair is grey. I am ok with that. Yes, I have a few laugh lines forming (although they are not as noticeable thanks to Mary Kay!) No, I cannot stay up as late as I used to or drink like I used to. Yes, I am closer to be eligible to live in an "active adult" community. But you know what? I am ok with all of it! Because I am happy to be here to enjoy getting older. I embrace it. It's life, and I am grateful to be living it!