Saturday, February 16, 2013

I've changed

It's always good to get jolted back to who I am, or at least who I want to be. That's been this weekend. Catholics believe that lent is a time to get back to this place ... Lent started last week and I have heard several conversations lately about what people will be giving up. Lent for me will be the time to the place of who I really am ... who I was meant to be. (It's surprisingly similar to Ramadan which is a time Muslims try to purify themselves by practicing patience and kindness.)

So where did this jolt I am referring to come from?

I think getting slapped upside the head with the illness creates a chain reaction. First, I went through survival mode. What do I have to do next? Go to surgery. Go to another surgery. Find a doctor, prepare for chemo. Eat the right food. Find the right medicine to combat side effects.

Then, I climbed up the mountain to take a look at the other side and ask -- What if? I know this will surprise most of you, but the answer I found was that life would move on without me. I know you were thinking that the world would evaporate without me, but alas, I'm not that important.

And now .... finally .... it's time to see life changes. How can I put every effort into the life I've been given? This is the fun part. What "coincidence" is going to happen next? Coincidences in my life usually highlight a growth opportunity. It was a coincidence for example that this time in my life coincided with Starting a new job. it put things into prospective. This coincidence emphasized that I am on the right road; if I allow it to, life is about to change. Yeah yeah ... I hear ya ... sounds like hogwash. You could be right, but my gut says otherwise ... and I may have a flabby gut (at the moment), but it's pretty smart.

Another coincidence was that right before I was diagnosed, I forged new friendships with a group of woman (and one man) I work with. Lymphoma has actually strengthened these friendships. The verdict is still out, but I think I'm learning - how to worry less and help more? It's not brain surgery, but it takes just the right situation to move a speeding train. So ..... I'm a changed woman.

I'd tell you more about the coincidences in my life, but I'm already feeling like I'm metaphorically in my skivvies so that's all you get today ... (did you know skivvies was spelled with two v's?)

Radiation - update

We met with the radiation oncologist this week. It was a great experience. I really liked him - he is an odd duck. :) We (well he) decided that he needed more information before making the recommendations on whether or not to do radiation. I had more blood drawn yesterday - after 3 needle sticks made me realize AGAIN why I got the port. I will have PET scan on Monday. My last PET scan was on a Monday holiday as well. I guess I like to have these done to celebrate our country (October PET was Columbus day, Monday's PET is Presidents day). I have full confidence that the scan will be clear. That is my positive attitude coming out. There are many pros and cons to consider. Having radiation will drain my life. I know this should not be a consideration, but driving 50 miles every day for 3.5 weeks is draining and then having to sit there having radiation shot at me... then there are the side effects. Not being able to swallow, voice issues, heartburn, etc. I know I dealt with worse with chemo, but still.... AGAIN???!!! Then there are the long term problems: increased risk of breast and lung cancer as well as possiblity of infertility if the radiation "leaks" down to my pelvis. This scares me. I would like to think I have another 50 or 60 years left in me and I would like to think that I would be cancer free for the rest of those years. This is my biggest hurdle. Several people have given me the advice to fight the cancer I have rather than worrying about the cancer I may get in the future. I guess that is one way to think of it. Otherwise, I am feeling pretty good. I still get more tired than I used to, but the nausea is nearly gone and I am working pretty much full time again. I am putting all I can into what I do - it is still not 100% though. I have not started to grow hair yet... darn it... and I would really like my nose hairs back. My nose just drips and drips and drips. I promise I am not sick, but it sure sounds like it. Well that is the update for now. I will fill you in when I know more on the 27th.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back to normal

But what is 'normal'? It's been so long since anything about life felt normal that I've kind of forgotten what it felt like. One thing (aside from my hair - more about that later!) that is getting back to normal is the way my brain makes associations with certain foods, places and even words. The words is the most interesting to me - anyone who has never had chemo/cancer would never think that ordinary words can take on such negative connotations that they can make you recoil in a gagging ball at the sheer mention of them. For example: Shots (went from fun tiny alcoholic beverages to pain inducing, self injectable little needles of hell), Saltwater (went from sea, holiday, swimming to nauseating 4 times daily mouth rinsing to try to rid that metal taste), flush (the function of a toilet? Nope, little syringes of saline that are pushed into your veins 27 times per hospital visit), dressing (the act of putting on clothes? or the bandages that cover the cuts, scars, and permanent tubes hanging from your arms soaking up the blood that permanently leaks due to blood thinners?), drip (probably one of the worst, no longer something that happens to a tap but instead the little drip drip drip you watch for hours on end willing the IV bag to empty into your veins faster so you can get rid of it), alcohol (this is NOT as much fun to have swabbed over your open wounds as it is to drink. And the smell. Bleugh), piece (everyday word, or wig?) rads (radiators? or radiation?), mass (catholic church service or tumour?) and it goes on and on and on.... But nearly 4 months on (WOW!) the negative connotations are giving way to the old meanings again. When something chemo-ey pops into my head now I smile to myself. The same thing happens with the very words 'cancer' and 'chemo'. These words become a strange badge of honour, something to be proud of. I did that. I always did wonder is it possible to finish chemo and be proud as opposed to afraid? I'm proud of what I achieved in the past months. I'm proud to be out the other side. I'm still afraid that I'll be catapulted back into that world, one more mutated cell is all it takes. I guess you can be scared and proud at the same time. I also have been back at work full time again. I don't feel any more tired than I would have before I got sick. Overall I was pretty surprised at how well I coped and also how it instantly felt like last year never happened. Life as usual. The world carries on. And for this I am very grateful. Hair picture anyone?! This is my current hair... No eyebrows and 12 eyelashes. This week. Who knows by next week.