Thursday, January 24, 2013

Living with cancer

So you will notice that I don't capitalize the "c" in cancer. That's something that I have decided to do as a symbolic gesture to not give it more importance than it deserves. I am living with cancer. It means that it is a part of my life, but it does not define my life, nor does it completey control my life.

Part of living with cancer is accepting that things can change at any time. That can be an improvement or a setback. It's a difficult shift. When I first was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, I thought I just had to get through it, and would come out the other side and be able to leave it behind. what I didn't realize is you really can never leave it totally behind... But most especially if you advance in stage.

But not all bad things come of it, and life doesn't have to suck just because I have experienced metastasis. I won't let it. I really have an issue with cancer trying to control everything. It doesn't seem like it deserves that right. I am fortunate that now I am aggressively screened for recurrances and will be aggressively treated as need be... And in the meantime, I just pray that I don't need more treatment. But that's out of my hands. What I can do is just continue to smile, laugh and love. That's what I always did. Why should I stop now?

Yes, I am living with chronic cancer. but what the heck.... who cares. I'm living!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dear cancer...

Dear cancer,

We have known each other for almost two years now. I guess there are a few things you should know about me I would think you would have figured then out by now but it seems you're a little stupid. I might be generally nice and relatively forgiving. What you don't seem to realize is I can be a tenacious bitch when I want to be. I am a Jersey Girl, which means I am tough and feisty at times. I am three quarters Italian and one quarter German which means hidden deep in me is a stubborn streak a mile wide. And I had three brothers growing up which made me believe I could accomplish anything, and it taught me to throw a punch.
I know you are a relentless pain in the ass, cancer. And I know you are probably going to try to keep coming back. However, you need to know that I am going to keep fighting. I am going to be your worst nightmare. What you don’t know is that when the doctors try to convince me to take a treatment, I need no convincing… Any tools they have to give me to fight you, I will take and I will run with.
So if you enjoy being cut, burned, poisoned and starved, so be it. I am going to keep doing those things. You can rest assured of that.
And I will continue to focus on my healthful living (granted, the holidays allowed me to slide a bit off track, but it’s January now, and I am back in control of that). I do not intend to give you excuses to come back. I can’t control you, but I can control me. And I can control what I do to fight you.
Clearly, you haven’t learned your lesson. I will keep beating up on you as long as I am able, which you should know, I intend to be able for a very long time. I don’t give up a fight easily and even though I have been through one hell of an 18 months, I am re-energized, and ready to be called back into battle to kick your ass again should it be necessary. Seeing my L2 looking all healthy and pretty on the screen breathed new wind into my sails.
I pray we never meet again, but know that if we do, I will haul at those boxing gloves again. Do me a favor, just stay away for a while. Save yourself the embarrassment of my beating up on you, ok?

Most Sincerely,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

new post up under "all these things plus one"

Cancer specific post is up. check it out:


I am here and that's what matters...

This one goes back under the category all these things plus  one, rather than stained glass because it’s predominantly about cancer. In the next two weeks, I enter the latest section of my diagnosis. My cancer world is carved up into 3 month chapters that will play out as time goes on. Every three months, they run scans and I get “re-staged”. I will never officially be allowed to come out of stage IV now, but I can potentially get to the ultimate goal of being “stage iv, ned… no evidence of disease” which means we have managed the detected cancer flare up, and I am currently stable. I don’t know if this round of scans will bring that, but certainly, it’s what I am praying for. I want to be medically stable. That would be good news of epic proportions for me. It means the next 3 month chapter of my life will be just a bit more hopefully, a bit more care free. Or, if I do not get my desired “NED”, I will find out what the next plan is. This will be the ongoing process of my life for the time being. But the fact that the scans and the treatments loom will not interfere with my life. I am here. I am not dead, nor do I plan on being so any time soon.

For now, here’s what I want to focus on. I am able to do what I want to do. There is so much of life for me to experience.  I might not be able to make major plans more than 3 months in advance, but that is ok. That keeps me more focused on the here and now which is not a bad thing. It helps me to enjoy living in the moment, something I often struggled to do. I am currently able to work up to my usual standard. I am able to be a mommy to my precious boy. I am able to be a wife to my beloved husband. I am able to be a sister, a daughter, and a friend. I am still me. I am not my cancer. That brings me to a new point. I am considering a new project: one that will bring hope to women in any stage of the disease. I have bounced it off a few people, and I really think that this is something the world needs. More hope for women who have cancer, including those with metastatic cancer. My purpose here is to help others feel stronger and more empowered. I believe I can make a difference for women who need it. If you are a breast cancer survivor (and yes this includes women in active treatment),  and are interested in learning more about the project  please reach out to me. If you don’t have my contact information, you can message me through my book’s fb page: “when life hands you pink lemons”.

In the coming weeks, please keep me and mom in your prayers. Mom has her regular followup. I have scans. Both are anxiety-inducing. Pray for our serenity, and pray for good news. We greatly appreciate it. I do believe God is listening.