"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Surgery Is Looming...again

I keep trying to put it out of my mind, but I have one more surgery scheduled for December 9th.  At this point I just want to be done with this crap!  It is physically and emotionally draining to keep having treatments and procedures.  Ugh!

This surgery will be for areola grafts and nipples.  Yes, I am getting nipples for Christmas this year.  I guess that is better than last year's gift of breast cancer if I think about it....

I can see why people get to this point and don't have more surgeries.  I am dreading another surgery and more recovery.  This is such a long process.  In this surgery, I will have a nipple made from the skin on my breast.  Then the surgeon will take skin from my lower stomach (my c-section scar) and create areolas and graft them on my breasts.  I guess the bonus is a mini tummy tuck (after an almost 10 lb baby I am not complaining about that!!!  My tummy was never the same after my son was born!).  From the photos I have seen from this type of reconstruction surgery, the results are the most realistic looking.  Regardless, I just want to be done with this whole thing so I can move on and live my life.

Last year when I was diagnosed, I quickly realized it would take about one year to get through all of this.  It seemed so long and overwhelming at the time.  At this point it's just kind of emotionally draining.  I keep telling myself that in two weeks it will be 1 year since my diagnosis so just do the surgery.  I knew it would take a year and the year is almost over.  I can start to see light at the end of the tunnel. 

For now, I will put the surgery out of my mind.  I will have the Scarlett O'Hara point of view and say "I will just think about that tomorrow". 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Need A Makeover

It has been almost 7 months since I finished chemo.  Life has been crazy with moving out of state and all but it has been WAY too long since I did something with myself!  Ugh!  I have never let myself go so bad.  Gotta love just one more side effect of breast cancer!

Before breast cancer, I had my hair cut every eight weeks - like clockwork.  I use to schedule my appointments eight weeks in advance.  I use to get my hair colored every few weeks.  There was never even a gray root visible to most.  Now it's a struggle to just wash my hair and put make up on!  I really need a makeover or something!

I have never considered myself a vain person or always primping but BC has allowed me to let myself go.  NO MORE!  I am going to schedule an appointment to get my make up done.  I need someone to help me camouflage these dark circles under my eyes for sure.  I look so pale with winter coming.  I hope this make up artist can perform miracles!

I also need to get something done with this hair.  I used cold caps to keep my hair through chemo but it is much thinner and frizzier than my pre-chemo hair.  I am kind of hating it and ready for a new look.  I was referred to a hair stylist that uses all organic products so I am going to call and get something done with this hair for sure! 

I am ready for a new look and a new me...cancer free!  I am gonna go for it!  No more post chemo excuses for me.  I need to put myself together again and soon!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help From My Pills

I have never been the type of person that liked taking pills or vitamins all that much.  When I use to get headaches, I would just try to wait it out and only take aspirin if it was really bad.  I just really didn't like to take anything.  Funny how things change after a breast cancer diagnosis!  These days I feel like a little old lady with my daily pillbox all ready to go!  This is a far cry from my pre breast cancer life for sure!

Since my diagnosis my perspective on pills and medication has changed significantly, but then again many things in my life have changed significantly.  In recent months I have said and done many things I would have never done before I was diagnosed.  I never would have thought that I would discuss my breasts with women I met over the Internet, let alone show them my breasts (gasp!) when we met in person.  I never thought I would blog about one of the most personal struggles of my life either, but here I am.  At this point, taking pills is no big deal to me anymore.  I guess I am glad to have medications to help me with treatment for breast cancer and other pills to help me deal with it.

Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my sleep went out the window.  It seems like being alone in the dark at night with my own thoughts is more than I can stand.  I guess I also realized that being a complete Type A personality is really hard when you have breast cancer.  I am the kind of person that over analyzes every situation from ever possible angle.  Do you have any idea what that is like day after day and night after night?  It's emotionally exhausting and the lack of sleep makes it physically exhausting.  I have discovered that I just can't stand that about myself anymore.  I just want some peace.  I want my brain to chill for a while so I can relax and enjoy my life. 

The breast cancer diagnosis plays games with your head.  No matter how much you try not to think about it, it is always there.  It lurks in the corner of your mind day after day and night after night.  It plants a seed of fear and anxiety that can grow like a wild weed if you don't do something with it.  I feel like over time the weed of fear and anxiety has grown slow, but it is still there.  Now that I am done with treatment I have more time to worry about it too.  I have to do something to make this easier. 

Many months ago, after weeks and weeks of little sleep, I finally caved and asked my medical oncologist for something to help me sleep.  I started taking Ambien.  When that didn't work, I started trying Xanax at night before bed.  That seemed to help me calm down and relax a bit so I could fall asleep.  I do sleep on Xanax but not near enough.   After ten months with little sleep, I finally talked to my new internist about other pharmaceutical options.  I guess I just can't do this on my own, so I started taking Lexapro.  I have only been on it for a few days so far so I don't know what to think quite yet.  I have noticed that I am having less hot flashes (bonus!) which many women that take these medications also experience.  I hope that continues!  I usually have several hot flashes every day and in the middle of the night from the tamoxifen I take. 

At this point, I guess I am getting by with a little help from my pills and I am O.K. with that.  Breast cancer is hard.  It is like nothing else I have had to conquer in my life.  So many things about it have taken me outside my comfort zone so what's one more thing?  I just want to do all I can to live a great, happy life cancer free and if pills help me do that, so be it.  So for now, I am getting by with a little help from my pills.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Today I Ran for Peggy

Today is the 3 year anniversary of the passing of my best friend's mom from lung cancer.  I have been thinking about Peggy and my best friend all morning.  I just can't get them out of my head.  I think about Peggy's laugh and zest for life and picture her at happy hour with us over drinks.  She was always upbeat, positive and young spirited.  She was a beautiful woman who loved to garden and listen to music.  She passed way too early and my best friend has been robbed of having her mom be here to see her kids grow up.  My heart aches for my best friend as she is still coping with this great loss.

Today I started my day with my workout.  I have been running in recent weeks but the most I have done is 5 1/4 miles.  Today I ran for Peggy.  I pushed myself to run a full 6 miles in her honor today.  I thought about all she went through in the last months of her life and realized my run was NOTHING compared to that.  I though about her smile and laugh.  I thought about the amazing relationship she had with my best friend.  I remembered when she met my son, held him, played with him and laughed.  I thought about how sad my best friend has been at losing her. 

Six miles was nothing but today thoughts of Peggy gave me hope, strength and peace.  Today I ran for Peggy.  May God please find a cure for all types of cancer one day so no child has to lose their mom to cancer. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Does Cancer Do To Someone?

I don't know why but I am in a little bit of a funk the last day or two.  It has been ten months since my diagnosis and life feels like in some ways it is finally moving on and getting more normal.  I know it can never be the life I had before, but I keep hoping it will be OK again. 

Today I was thinking about what I have to "get over" or "get through" for life to be completely normal again and quite honestly it made me stop and think about what breast cancer has done to me.  We all know the obvious things - surgeries, mastectomies, chemo and side effects, but what no one realizes are the many other things that go with it.

When you get diagnosed, you put on your "big girl panties" and just get prepared for what lies ahead.  You try to prepare for losing your breasts and getting new fake ones.  You try to prepare yourself for chemo and feeling like crap.  You try to prepare yourself for losing your hair or fighting to keep it through chemo.  You then slowly push through all of these things at a physical expense and an emotional one as well.  These are the things people around you know and see you go through.  What others don't see is the battle that lies within.

The battle within starts with the worst possible thoughts and fears of your diagnosis and what could really happen.  Ultimately the words "there is no cure" ring in your head.  Those words rip deep into your soul and rob you.  Those words steal your faith in things, peace of mind, many of your dreams and most of all your ability to lead another care-free day.  It's something only the actual patient can experience.  No one else can truly understand it unless the words have been said to them.

What others don't realize is that long after surgeries and chemo are over and hair is back to normal, the internal battle still goes on within for those diagnosed.  We may look normal on the outside and like our pre-cancer self again, but we are not done fighting.  It's a struggle everyday to deal with the cancer thoughts that dance in our heads.  A cancer diagnosis cuts you to the core and there are so many wounds inside that others will never see or understand.  That makes this a very lonely, lonely battle. 

I realized that others see me as "normal" again the other night when I was talking to my husband.  I was telling him that I was so sick of being tired and not sleeping well.  I have such a hard time getting to sleep even with xanax some nights.  My husband turned and looked at me and asked "what does keep you up at night?"  That is when it hit me....he really doesn't get it.  He has NO idea how much I am dealing with the internal battle in my mind.  That was a blow.  It just reinforced that no one else gets it no matter how close they are to me or how hard they try to understand. 

I love my husband and I am not mad.  I just wish people in my life had just a little more of a true picture of what my life is really like.  I know it's not their fault and if I had not been through this I wouldn't get it either.  I just know that my battle to fight cancer is still going on in my head.  I don't know how, when or if it will ever stop, but I am trying hard to cope and move on to a more care free life.  I don't want to live in this battle, I want to live in the real moments in my life.  That is what I am going to try to fight for every day.