It has been 4 ˝ months since I walked out of my last radiation therapy treatment for breast cancer and although I am glad that it is over; quite frankly I am just a wee bit scared as well.
As I have learned with other "major medical" experiences that I have either been through personally or watched others deal with….you really don’t have a lot of time to reflect on your situation when it is happening because you are so busy going through the motions of the changes in your life and trying to incorporate those changes into your regular routine that is life as you know it that it is hard to take a step back and absorb what is really going on.
Post radiation didn’t allow for much leeway either. It essentially meant getting back to my "busy time of the year". This involved tying my normal work schedule in with my son’s school schedule coupled with things like my anniversary, my hubby’s birthday; several extended family milestones; and the holidays. Who has time to think about anything? Especially when you don’t want to put too much thought into it.
Another thing that I did during my treatment was sign up with a local gym so now I have to incorporate my workout routine into my schedule as well.
Sometimes you do have to wait until a random day 4 ˝ months later when your "life factory" is running at a nice steady clip before you can put that thought into your head.
I’m not saying this is the first time I have thought about what’s next with my breast cancer journey.
My follow up appointment card is tacked up on the wall next to my calendar so in a sense I feel like I am lucky to be on break from all of the medical routine. I still have a mild radiation sunburn as well as a few more scars to add to my collection.
My schedule is still demanding enough though to keep my mind busy.
Work is still crazy busy and although we’ve acquired help; I get to train the new people and offer countless tips and advice as they reach their next personal milestones.
My child is still struggling with his advanced curriculum at school…..so how much extra time do we spend doing homework vs finding something else vs just trying to be a kid.
Some days I love working out at the gym as it is such a nice stress relief but other days it seems like another chore more than anything. BUT, I’ve hit a "plateau" and need to change things up to drive success there.
I run into a coworker at my gym periodically when she is getting ready to go to her class there which is Zumba and she is encouraging me to give it a shot. I am a bit scared of any routine type cardio aerobics as I feel like I have two left feet but it’s not like I’d be graded on my efforts. Maybe I’ll see if that helps.
My hubby recently saw an opportunity that piqued his interest in buying land "up north". As an ALMOST "up north" landowner from 15+ years ago and a former landlord with a rental house; I know there are always challenges in the world of second properties.
I am starting to think that moment of reflection or feeling scared isn’t going to last long at all with all of my other life stuff that I have to manage.
But then again, out of all of the crazy things buzzing in my head and my attempt to channel my energy into a positive mindset; I’ve come to one "no brainer" conclusion.
I don’t care how old you are; but if you have lost your mother in a situation that you believe is "before her time" you will always miss having your true crutch, your true role model, mentor, life coach and best friend there to talk to when your time of reflection does seep into your brain.
I am very fortunate in the fact that my particular diagnosis was ‘Stage 0" ….. .the kind that won’t kill you but the fact that there was so much behind getting rid of the non threatening stuff it still leaves you thinking ‘what if’.
Of course I have plenty of long time friends I can talk to; new acquaintances that I feel like I have just struck a chord with; and a solid list of medical professionals that can not only answer technical questions but happen to know plenty of experts on the mental side of things as well.
Hell….I have long time friends who are professionally certified mental health therapists.
But, I still miss my dear sweet mother and just hope that she is looking down from heaven and not only liking what she sees but in the meantime striking a deal with God ensuring that everything is going to be OK.
As a Stage 0 survivor; I do feel like I will be around "long enough" to watch my son grow up.
It would be nice to have mom around though to not just ask about particular life experiences with kids that you can basically share with anyone; but to ask her what I did; i.e. ME SPECIFICALLY- do at that age….how did she handle me when this or that happened and what advice she may have to give.
The same for marriage – I know we could share a lot of good laughs while delicately trying to fix our men in our minds but knowing that the reality of "try to think of how hard it is to change yourself before you try and change anyone else" would always be there and you either get over it or get through it one way or another. No need to cause road ripples.
She would adore my son and he would adore her….sometimes I feel like they are two peas in a pod.
So when the day arrives and I have to work up the courage to go see the doctor not only will I be talking to God but also telling mom just hello and please wish me luck.
When I originally started writing this it was a bit me-centric in that I didn’t think too much about it; but the reality came to me when I threw in the missing my mom part that a lot of the mothers in the breast cancer boat just aren’t going to be so lucky. That deeply saddens me for those I don’t know as much as it did with my own mom.
Only God knows why he needs these women; the rest of us have to suffer. I wish I had something positive; inspiring or otherwise to say to make it feel better but the best I can do is give you virtual hugs and tell you that my ears are open and my pen is ready if you would ever like to share tales or swap stories. I lost my mother to a different form of cancer but it’s still the same when it comes to "been there, done that".
What I can tell you now is no matter what your stage; embrace your journey, have fun, and do what you love to do. Throw caution to the wind. (They make movies about this kind of stuff you know)!
Be brave in your treatment but better yet be brave in finding a way to check things off of your bucket list. Even if they’re just little things. Make new friends and keep the old. They’re all golden really.
As I was doing my radiation therapy I loved the staff at the Cancer Center – they were great and as much as I actually enjoyed seeing them and talking to them daily despite the circumstances now it will be best if I don’t. A person can really only take SO MUCH of being scantily clad on a table 6 feet in the air with your feet tied together. (I don’t remember why they do this to your feet when they are zapping your BOOBS – maybe it was a balance thing or method to stop any "knee-jerk" reactions- haha).
I loved my chair yoga instructor and the fact that it opened my eyes to how tightly wound up I had been and really did need to take some time to breathe. When I said I was done and wouldn’t be back in class next week she invited me to come back anyway.
Some of the people I connected to in my class agreed. Come back. We enjoy having you with us in our journey. You don’t need to be a patient in treatment to share this time. We don’t think about cancer.
We laugh about our creaking bones and toes getting stuck and backs not wanting to move back to the right spot as we stretch.
We tell tales of our children, spouses, friends and travel ventures. We watch others contort into the suggested poses and realize everyone else is moving their right arm while we’re moving our left. Oops. No harm no foul, though. You’re not being judged. Your smile and your stories light up the room and gives us all the opportunity to NOT think about exactly why we are there in the first place. Golden.
As much as I really wished that I could go do my chair yoga every Wednesday at the Cancer Center; I still had a normal life to get back to.
I was fortunate in a sense that radiation therapy kind of opened my eyes and pulled me out of a rut that I felt like I was falling into.
I loved being able to only have to work part time…..I loved having time to write, do a little yoga; dabble in a little artwork; and recenter my focus on what I should be doing to keep things running smoothly.
It offset the fatigue, the nausea, and the feeling like you got punched in the stomach. Oh and in the mean time had ice cold feet and a sweaty forehead.
But, for me the day isn’t here yet when I can write, draw, or do tree poses at my leisure. I am glad that it is not by things beyond my control; but I will still have to work on making that happen. I don’t want to think I can only do stuff like that because I am doing radiation therapy or any other type of medical treatment. However; doing it during my therapy helped me to realize it is what I enjoy the most and should pursue those passions.
And Mom, as much as I love you and miss you I can’t come to see you in heaven anytime soon.
I believe in my moment of reflection that is what I can expect– go about business as usual. Work to get those bucket list items and life passions at front and center.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed and until that 6 months gets here for the follow up just BREATHE. Then everyone else can also breathe a big collective sigh of relief when I say I’m still in the clear.
Perhaps one day with all of the breakthroughs in science; research, stem cell therapy and more there will be a lot more people in advanced stages of cancer treatment following what I believe my next appointment results will be.
And that is –
"Carpe diem……seize the day! Do it now….repeat for another 45 years". Doctor’s orders!!!