Radiating from the inside out! (Literally…)

My Radiation Treatment was: 6 weeks/5 days a week. Just fantastic! But it’s OK,  I got this.

I get up every morning; pull myself and my son together, school drop off, drive 40 minutes, park as far from the entrance as I can, sit in the car for at least 10 minutes, breathing. (Constantly remind myself that I am here today so that I can be here for many more tomorrows.) Breath a little bit more. Suck it up, and walked into the building. Smiling at anyone and everyone I saw.  I just keep smiling and saying hello even though I might not get a response.  I would try to get the same locker everyday. Why? I have absolutely no idea. But I still tried. Get undressed. Sit. Wait. Good Morning to the best techs! (They always greeted me with a smile) I’d lay down on that machine, still numb, ribs hurting from the table, just breathing, trying not to move-at all. How I hated that machine. The look of it, the smell of the room, the sounds the machine would make as it powerfully injected me with its rays and then again as it would click it’s way over to the other side for a second blast.  Get dressed. (Still breathing… Walks to the car are always better when the sun is shining. I never really cared how cold it was, as long as the sun is shining.)  Sit in the car, again, for as long as it takes to find the energy to accept this process and drive 40 mins home.

 

 

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“Reserved Parking”

Not really sure how I feel about this.  I’m quite sure I’ll never really embrace being a ‘patient’. An oncology patient nonetheless. 

When I woke up this morning, I knew exactly where I was headed and what was in store for me. What I didn’t know, was how the day would take a turn…

It was beautiful out.  Simply a crisp, cool, clear autumn day. The sun was shining bright, which made me happy and I knew I would be ok… Until the new radiation table wasn’t cooperating.  Or maybe it was the uncomfortable positioning  of my half numb arm, or simply the pressure of my body laying on my not all-the-way healed breast. 

I can breathe myself through the pain. But it might have been too much and again my subconscious takes over and my blood pressure starts to drop, and I’m quickly losing color. Here we go again. I spent the next hour and a half inverted while fighting the shakes.   The appointment was a bust and I go back next week for a complete do-over. 

Honestly, there are so many emotional elements of this process and sometime I just feel so alone. Sometimes by default. Sometimes by choice.  Either way, alone…  so I sat. On the ground, in the earth, in the sunshine, underneath my reserved parking sign, and I cried.  

Everything will be alright… but today I am sad. Embracing the treatment plan that is in place is hard for me.  I tell myself over and over again…. Everything will be alright!!

…on being Lucky…

The definition of the word LUCKY: bringing, having, or resulting in good luck. Being fortunate, blessed or favored. 

This is a very delicate word when discussing cancer of any stage and let me start by saying, I can truly appreciate the context of which it is said when people say “You’re so Lucky because of this or that …”

People that care will desperately try to say anything to make you feel better about the diagnosis.  However, A small piece of me cringes when someone tells me how LUCKY I am that I only have Stage One Breast Cancer. “You’re so lucky they caught it early! You’re so lucky it’s only stage one!  You’re so lucky you’re going to live!”  I can certainly appreciate the positives… but lucky?

Fact is, everyone that battles cancer has a different journey, a different set of circumstances, different support systems, different financial situations etc… And the truth is, that no matter how much money you have, how good or bad the circumstance, or whatever the diagnosis is… having cancer sucks and there is nothing lucky about it. Period. 

I’ve always taken my breast care very seriously and mammograms are given priority over any medical attention in my life. In some sense, yes, I am Lucky that I’ve been diligent with breast care and because of this, they found it early.  As a result,  I may appear Lucky, because early detection may have some advantages of care and treatment.  

The day I was diagnosed, I decided that I would not allow cancer to define me. So I appear Lucky that cancer has not visually affected me in ways that most people associate cancer patients… losing hair, losing weight, losing freedom, losing quality in life, losing independence and so on…

But nobody knows how conscious I am about the very decisions I make every morning, to be ok with not being ok and to find the good in anything…. Or how hard I work every single night, when the day is over and my head hits the pillow, and I could cry because I’m so drained and scared and I don’t know how to feel because I smile all the time hoping that I will convince myself to feel happy!! It’s in these times, when I promise you, I feel anything by Lucky.  But I don’t cry. Because I realize how Grateful I am. 

Grateful for the tools I have been given to make decisions and that I take my health seriously. Grateful for the family and friends that support and love me. Grateful for the experience of knowing how Cancer affects lives. And believe it or not, Grateful for having loved ones in my life who have fought so hard and lived longer than cancer probably wanted them to. This gives me the most strength. 

Please know, that nobody fights cancer without being affected in some way. Nobody that has Cancer feels Lucky

I mean, think about it…. Lucky to have breast cancer? Lucky to have undergone rigorous testing, biopsies and surgery? Lucky to lose sleep and shed tears? Lucky to not be able to hug my son or people that love me because of the pain?  Lucky that my body will never be the same? Lucky to have to put my body through the daily radiation process? Lucky to intentionally fill my body with prescription medicines for 10 years on a daily basis?  To live with the fear, that there is a small, yet valid chance, that this will never be over? Not so lucky.  

Lucky to be alive? Yes. Lucky that modern medicine has made so many advances in technology? YES! Lucky that I’ve been blessed with the strongest and most compassionate little boy in the world that gives me the will to keep smiling ?  Most definitely! ❤️

So maybe, just maybe, think twice the next time you tell somebody how Lucky they are. 

Stage One or not.

Big Hugs!

It’s Showtime!

5:00 AM – I’m up and ready to go! My son gave me Elliot, the Magicical tie-dyed dragon he won for me on the boardwalk.  He said that I needed to bring him with me because Elliot was going to watch over me 💙.  That dragon was with me all day.  Everyone knew his name and it added a little fun and color to the day!

6:45 AM We arrive at The Breast Center and I’m feeling excited. Sounds strange since I’m walking into a pretty intense day, but I was. I couldn’t wait to get this out of my body so I can move on! After some paperwork, they took me back to start vitals. All is well.

7:30 AM I’m on my way for a sentinel lymph-node injection. As they explained what was going to happen, I felt a little nervous, but looking back, that injection was not bad. By 10:00 AM my lymph-node was visible on the screen and I was ready for the next step.

10:30 AM I’m getting wired. Literally. I don’t remember hearing about this part, but due to the fact that I have some pretty dense breasts, this was a little tough. It’s amazing how safe you feel when you have great nurses and medical staff around you. They know exactly what to look for… and by 11:30 AM I found myself in trendelenburg because I pretty much fainted and my blood pressure was quite low. After laying there for 45 minutes, I got my color back and they brought me upstairs.

By this time, my controlled emotions still have not caught up with my subconscious and I am still fine. I’m ready. Let’s keep moving. 🙂

12:15 PM I’m now prepping for the O.R. My plastic surgeon, Dr. Cyrus Loghmanee, assisted by Dr. Dean Cerio, https://ecaplasticsurgery.com marked me with purple incision lines. I was READY!!  

My breast surgeon, Dr. M. Michele Blackwood and her team walked with me to the OR. However, I didn’t quite make it. My blood pressure dropped again, and I found myself on yet another stretcher. This was getting ridiculous!!! I was fine! I was ready! I wasn’t nervous! I wasn’t afraid! Nothing!  

Newsflash!!! You can only convince yourself of some things… My subconscious clearly did not feel fine or ready! Ahaha…

After a serious, yet full of humor conversation with my Dr. in the hallway, we agreed that the hallway would not make for a good surgery location. So they rolled me in. Let’s do this! I WAS SO F’IN READY!!! 

By 1:20 we were in the OR, I was surrounded by so many smiling faces. I remember laughing…. and then… I was out.

4:45 PM approximately, I woke up in recovery. 🙂 vaguely remember seeing the Dr’s, but they said I did great! And thoughts would run through my head, ‘yeah sure I did great, now I can’t move, swallow or think straight, and I have no idea how I got here, but I’m glad it went great’… Pretty funny stuff! Honestly, I remember feeling so relieved that it was over and that I was somewhat whole again. But mostly I remember thinking, how in the world did I get here? Anesthesia is an interesting animal. LOL

5:30 PM I got to see my tribe who have been waiting around all day for me… It really was all a bit fuzzy honestly. 🙂 I think I was the only one left in recovery… That was some action packed 14 hr day!!

8:45 PM I was home and I was happy. I couldn’t move. But I was happy. It was over. The only thing I ever truly worried about was waking up. Everything else would be ok because I had complete trust in my Doctors. And there you have it, I woke up… 🙂

The day came to an end, but my journey is far from over… And that’s ok. Because I am ok. 

Never lose your faith and never stop believing that YOU CAN!!

Keep Life Colorful!

tie dyed

With 4 days left, I’ve decided to only keep Good Vibes around me!

My son, has decided to ‘host’ me a party!  The theme?  Tie-dyed of course!! Wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂  I will be surrounded by all of the people in my life, that get me. know me. accept me. love me. and support me. I will certainly miss those that live way too many miles away, but I cannot wait to embrace the smiles and laughter of my family of friends.

They may never know how appreciative I am of their support. So this party, is not only for me… It’s a thank you to my friends and family that have accepted the challenge to give me the courage to fight without judgement. It’s a celebration of Strength, Sincerity and Support. And I love you all.

THANK YOU FOR KEEPING MY LIFE COLORFUL!

You are in control of what you let into your life.  You are also in control of how you deal with situations. I say, throw a party!  Love and Friendship goes a long way!!

Dear Cancer…

Please tell me… how the hell did you exactly find me?  I do not recall sending you an invitation,  yet you have invaded me and found a place you want to call home inside my body. You’ve got some nerve!  How dare you assume that you can simply walk into my life, shake it up and demand my attention?  Steal my health? Steal my strength? My faith? 

Did you actually think that you could break me? That I would succumb to the hold you have inside me and lose myself under your watch?  You are mistaken.  

I’ve wasted way too much time, money and effort on you already. You’re scaring people in my life. You’ve stolen valuable sleep. I’ve lost patience and missed out on happiness. I’ve felt fear, worry and anxiety. And for what?  So that you can add another body to the count of lives you’ve infected? 

Listen to me carefully… I did not invite you, therefore, you are not welcome here. I will fight you. And I will beat you. And I will proudly add my name to the list of warriors before me. 

I don’t give you any credit, because you don’t deserve any. I won’t give you the satisfaction of thinking that you’ve won, because you haven’t and you never will. You’re messing with the wrong girl and I bid you farewell. 

Don’t ever give up the fight

The art of being kind.

Be kind. Always. I cannot stress this enough. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Identities are gnawed at everyday. Hopes are crushed. Dreams are shattered.  People leave. Lives end. Money is tight. Support is scarce. Health fails. Love fades. And all anyone really ever needs is some kindness.

Don’t judge. Just listen. Don’t make accusations. Exercise patience. Don’t look for fault. Share a smile. Don’t take offense. Offer a hug. Don’t take things personally. Just be kind.

Sometimes it’s hard to see through the facade. People have a way of hiding emotion. Guards are up. Trust has been broken. It’s never easy to ask for help. We are all learning. So, let people in and welcome new friends. Everyone has been through something worse than what you are experiencing at this moment.  This is truth.

Being kind brings out the goodness in all of us!

Breathe. Believe. Be Kind. 

Hugs to you all.

Finding peace…

Find your peace. Whatever that is to you. Peace will help you get through the bad days. The tough days that pull you into places you don’t want to be. Peace will guide you through the darkness where everything seems to eat at you and make you want to run.  Peace will destroy the negativity that buzzes inside your mind. Peace will bring you calm and that will help you heal.

I found peace 5000 feet up on a mountain top, in the desert, where the only sounds you can here are of a raven flying by, and footsteps crunching through the dirt and gravel behind you. Seems like an unreasonable request to find a place where peace exists, I agree.

But just know that I also found peace on a bike path just a few miles away from my home with my son. And then again, while talking to a friend a thousand miles away. And yes, somehow, I found peace while sitting in traffic, watching people who clearly forgot how to drive, and somehow feel that slamming on the horn for 30 seconds would magically clear the road so that they could move 10 feet forward.

Seems nearly impossible, but the truth is that you have peace within you all the time. You just need to find it. And when you do, you need to remember to go there. And stay there for as long as you can!   Don’t be afraid to disconnect from the world as you know it.

Sometimes we need to step away from the madness and the rush of the world. The demands, the check lists, the bills, the phone, the social media, the medicine, the conversations, the worries, everything that takes away from the beautiful you.

When your reality is no longer desirable, decisions become difficult, sadness rears it’s head, or you just feel alone… go there! Indulge in the peace that you can create, and give yourself a break. Nobody is judging you. (Nobody that matters anyway) I promise. It’s ok.

Breathe.  Let it go and live with peace. (even if it is for only a moment, you’re worth it!)

Namaste. xo

 

Sometimes….

Sometimes, we don’t know how to feel or what to say. Sometimes, we lose our patience and we can’t see things clearly because our minds are convoluted with “what ifs”.  Sometimes, it’s hard to smile and pretend we’re ok. Sometimes, we want someone to love us or maybe just be left alone. Sometimes, breathing alone is difficult, let alone be a caretaker or a housemaker. Sometimes, we know exactly what we want while other times we don’t want to think or have to make a decision. Sometimes, it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes, we have to let go and sometimes we have to hold on.

But no matter what time it is, we always have to believe, be kind, honor ourselves, our mind and our soul.  Because sometimes,  that’s all we have.

Ironically, on this day, 3 friends from 3 different parts of the country all sent me photos of sunflowers, and their messages were “thinking of you”.

On the very same day!

Believe in the gifts of the universe.

Hugs xo

Identifying your tribe. 

I recently read an article outlining how cancer can weed out people in your life and identify those who will be your “support circle”.  

Well, it’s true.  I found strangers who gave me their number in desperation because they wanted to help… Some people would cry when they heard the news… Some would go silent and avoid talking to me… Others would twist what they could to make it about them. 

It’s funny how the word cancer makes people feel.  It is a scary word… And not everyone deals with this word the same. 

At the end of the day, you learn what part people play in your life. Some of the outcome is surprising, relieving, and some can be very disappointing.  

Find your tribe!! Embrace those who embrace you… Hold on to them tight. 

And just let the rest go. 
Because it is YOU that is suffering and it is YOU who must heal. There is no time to waste on anyone else. 

Remember, you got this! Xo