Thursday, January 29, 2009

Checking In

Sorry I haven't blogged in awhile. I've been trying out my "new" normal life as a cancer survivor without spending too much time being introspective.
Physically I am starting to feel OK. I am getting most of my hair back. I've got about an inch on the top of my head, my eyebrows are back for good and I think my eyelashes are actually coming back in thicker than before. I'm don't have pain anymore and feel like my strength is about back to the "old" normal levels. I do still get really tired at the end of the day and when I push things too far I hit a wall and end up in bed asleep by 8 or so. Each day though I get more of my energy back.
Mentally I still struggle now and then with conversation - finding the words to convey what I am trying to say is very frustrating to me. I have become a stutterer. I've also started this annoying habit of biting my lower lip when I need a few moments to come up a correct response in a conversation. Making simple decisions can also stymie me. I am sure I can be very frustrating to those around me when I can't even make the simple decision of what I want to drink. It's hard to explain but it's like my brain shuts down when I am given a few different choices. And I still blank out every once in awhile and find myself sitting or standing in mid-motion with no idea how long I've been there like that. It just happened this evening. I "awoke" to find myself standing in my hallway with no idea how I got there or which way I was going or what I had been doing. Very odd. Oh and then trying to remember things drives me crazy. I have to take my pill every night. And every night I go to take my pill and I make a mental note that I am taking the pill and then ten minutes later I can remember meaning to take the pill, I can remember making a mental note of taking the pill but I can't for the life of me remember actually taking the pill. It drives me crazy. It is so stinkin annoying - and it happens every single night! I bet there are nights I end up taking two or three pills. Geesh! I like to think that I've become good at acting like I am "normal" to those who are around me when I have these little mental breakdowns but I worry that I don't do a very good job of it.
It's hard for me to believe it's only been three weeks since I got out of treatment - mentally it feels like months and months. I try not to think about cancer all the time and have been so busy both on and off work that it hasn't been too hard. For the first time since I started this blog I went back and read a couple of my posts from last August and September. Wow - it kind of brought back how hard it was and I had to quit reading. Plus all of the typos were driving me nuts. :)
I went back to the hospital this week to pick up a prescription. I ended up sobbing for 15 minutes in the parking lot. Being there brought all the memories of the past seven months back and I then let a bit of worry for the future sneak into my fore thoughts. I remembered the "it is cancer" phone call in all it's gut wrenching glory and then imagined how much worse it will be if I ever get the same call again. I try to never let myself think "if" but that morning the "if" snuck up on me. The thought of hearing that diagnosis again knowing what I know now about cancer "treatments" took my breath away. So mentally I obviously have a few things to work through. Hopefully it's nothing a few good hikes and weekends out exploring won't cure!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Random Pictures

Lots of snow on my BBQ

The Vortex growing on my head
Radioactive Sign on my desk - it brought some levity and laughter to the office when most people didn't know what to say or how to act.

Radiation Room - notice hot air balloon picture on the ceiling lights in the upper left corner of the picture. The chemo room had a picture of blue sky and clouds. At least they try to make the cancer center pretty and relaxing.

It is official - I passed cancer!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chemo 4 Surgeries 3 Radiation 33 Linda Won!

It is finished. It's been almost six months to the day that I was diagnosed back in early July. It seems like it was just yesterday but feels like it's been my entire life. Dad and Mom both came with me this morning. It was the worst driving conditions for Dad today of the whole ordeal with lots of snow and ice. I don't think he is going to miss the three hour commute we had each day. I know I never would have been able to do what I have done without him and Mom taking care of me. And I am really going to miss them. The staff was great at the cancer center with everyone coming around to congratulate me. They gave me a certificate that everyone signed, a book on what's next for me as a cancer survivor who has finished treatment, and an african violet. I don't have to go back until February 10th for meetings with each of my oncologists. In all I missed four days of work for surgeries, four days for chemo treatment days, four days from chemo pain, and a couple of half days from radiation fatigue.
A lot has happened in my life in the past six months. Not all of it cancer related - believe it or not. I've gained a wonderful relationship with someone who is smarter than me if can you believe that :), started a fun challenging new job, moved into a comfy house with the perfect back yard, have four new scars, gained a huge appreciation for health care workers, explored some beautiful areas of Arizona and Utah, for the first time ever I used up all of my sick days at work, moved away from friends that I still miss terribly every single day, lost all of the hair on my body, look ten years older, felt more physical pain than I thought I could bear, heard some great new songs with lyrics that seemed written for me("December never felt so wrong"), learned that no matter how badly I felt for myself there are so many out there with much bigger struggles, first saw Charlie and Candy Mountain, went from the scared new girl to the wizened old timer in the radiation waiting room, brought home hundreds of cards of support from the post office, reaffirmed what a fantastically supportive family I am blessed to have, wrote checks for thousands of dollars, was bamboozled, made new friends (thanks chemo angels Linda and Cindy!), hated every single stinkin' second of being bald, gained weight, then lost some of the gained weight, learned way more than I ever dreamed about breast cancer, read lots of books, wrote lots of long wordy blogs like this one, felt pretty good about myself and all that I have and will accomplish, was blown away by all the support I received, gained an appreciation for every day that is not a chemo day, learned to wear hats, kept ignoring the elephant, and learned for a fact that laughter really is the best medicine.
I was going to quit writing this blog in the next few days. I have even decided the opening and ending lines of the final blog. But I've got a few more pictures to post and a few more thoughts about cancer rattling around in my head. So, I think you are stuck with me for a little while longer anyway.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Guest Blog

I’ll never forget the day Linda smiled and told me “I have cancer.”

Day to day, it’s so easy to lose track of what’s important. We’re all guilty of it, it’s so easy to be distracted. You have to go to work, bills have to be paid, food has to be put on the table. Every once in a while, you’re reminded what’s really important in life.

I’m moved by the strength that Linda has had through her ordeal. Through everything, Linda has been fighting back with a smile and her sense of humor; I know she’s felt terrible, but her smile and attitude is her armor. I admire that.

We all want to know what we can do to help…probably not much I suppose, other than being there (which unfortunately, we can’t always do). That’s frustrating for all of us, but we’re happy for what Linda’s family has done to help.

Now, several months later, with one treatment left, Linda is still smiling. I’m so happy to be here with her as she closes this chapter in her life. :)


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

May all of you have an incredibly wonderful, adventurous, and happy new year!