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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Life is Good

When I think about how life was at this time last year and compare it to life now, I can't believe how different things are!  This time last year I had just finished my second chemo infusion.  I still had surgeries remaining and was in the thick of breast cancer.  Part of it seems like yesterday, but parts of it seem so long ago.  Because life seems so much more normal, sometimes it feels like it never happened.  I do have the lovely scars to prove that it did though.

When I look at my life now, it is filled with things I didn't imagine.  At this time last year, I wanted out of my job horribly.  Now I no longer work there and am free to work on my own business and have time to take care of my family.  A year ago, I couldn't run at all despite working out all the time.  I had not been running in years.  Now I run 6 miles at a time a few days a week.  After getting diagnosed, I never thought I would do that. I never ran that much even in my 20's and 30's.  Now I am 46 and a year out from breast cancer and I am doing that!  At this point I am considering training for a half marathon!  My body also feels SO much better.  I had so many aches and pains from stress, driving in the car all the time for my job and exercising that I felt like an old woman.  The hip pain I had for five years from IT-Band issues is completely gone!  The heel spur that made it hard for me to walk at times is barely noticed.  My stress level is reduced greatly and I just feel so much better.  My secrets are yoga, exercise, reducing my stress and just focusing on the things that really matter.

What is strange to me is that I feel THIS good a year later.  Life is just good!  I guess breast cancer changes so many things in your life, but some of them can be for the better if you stop and think about it.  For anyone reading this that is going through the breast cancer journey, try to have faith that life will be good again.  I could not see that in the middle of my journey, but now I am living it. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To Tell or Not To Tell?

Now that we are settled in a new state, we are making friends and getting to know a lot more people, which is really nice.  We have been spending a lot of time with our neighbors and another family we met through soccer.  It feels like things are getting more "normal" each and every day which is refreshing!

The problem I have is the whole breast cancer thing and my diet.  What is hard for me when we go somewhere is worrying about the food and the hormones in it.  When we lived in Michigan, my family and friends all knew and often would prepare something special for me or I would just bring something I could eat with me and it was no big deal.  Here, no one knows I had breast cancer.  As we get more and more invitations out to do things I fear it is going to be harder to keep this to myself.  I just won't eat meat full of hormones or certain foods that are not good for hormone positive breast cancer. 

It's not that I don't want to tell people, it's just awkward.  At what point do you discuss something so personal and devastating with someone you are building a friendship with?  It puts me in a very uncomfortable place at times. 

The other thing I have to deal with is my son does not really know I had cancer. He knows I had a boo boo in my chest and needed surgeries to make me healthy.  He also knows I had some strong medicines that made me tired for a while.  Because I kept my hair through chemo, he has no idea I even did it.  I acted normal and we did normal things all through my treatment so he never asked any questions so I just went with it.  What makes this difficult is that the more people I tell, the more chances of my son finding out that I had cancer from someone else.  I plan to tell him, but when the time is right - not now.  He is only five. 

I had many reasons I did not want to tell my son I had cancer.  First of all I didn't think I needed to teach a four year old the words "cancer" and "chemo".  Since I had planned to use the Penguin Cold Caps to keep my hair through chemo, he would not really see me look any different.  Also, I was staged as Stage 1 breast cancer and the odds of recurrence were less than 10% for me so I am being hopeful that I won't have to deal with breast cancer again or at least for a very long time.  Given all of these things, we decided it would be best not to tell him at the time. 

Now I struggle with my son not knowing and my friends not knowing that I had breast cancer.  I guess at some point I will have to tell some people, but for now I just mention that I have some very unusual dietary restrictions and hope no one asks too many questions.  If they were to ask questions I don't even know what I would say.... I also try to invite people over here more for get togethers so I can control the food better.  I wonder how long I can keep this up!

What's strange is with breast cancer you try so hard to move on and forget about it but it keeps interfering with what should be "normal" events or things in your life.  It is pretty dang annoying!  Darn breast cancer.......ugh!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Back to Reality

One of the things that other people don't get about having breast cancer is there is NO cure.  When you get surgery and go through chemo, once you are done, people think you are cured and life is good.  Well it certainly is great to be done with treatment and I am trying my best to make life good, but the fact the breast cancer is not curable still haunts me at times.

For the past two weeks, I have been having rib pain.  Like most other normal breast cancer gals, my mind immediately thinks "it's baaaack"!  Then I have to try to talk myself down off the reccurence ledge so I don't jump.  I have to be realistic and have it checked out by my doctors to make sure it is not a recurrence. 

What people don't get is that every little pain we get or experience, thrusts us back into the thoughts of having cancer again.  It can recur anywhere at anytime.  Some people live for years or the rest of their life with no recurrence, but many women have it come back.  How do I not get zapped back to the reality of cancer every time something hurts?  This is mentally exhausting.  What makes it harder for me is I exercise a lot so something always hurts. 

So for now, here I sit with thoughts of my reality with some rib pain.  I guess I better start calling my doctors tomorrow.  And have I mentioned lately that after all of this I am really sick of doctors?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I still actively participate in an online support website with chat boards full of breast cancer women.  I go there for understanding, compassion, information, laughs and just to chat with other women that "get it".  I consider all those women my "sisters".  We are all connected in a special way that others can't understand.  There is a bond because of our breast cancer diagnosis that links us and unites us all even if we don't share the exact, same breast cancer situation.

Every time I read that another one of my "sisters" has become an angel, a powerful anger rages inside.  My heart sinks.  I feel sad.  I get scared.  I can't stop thinking about her and her family, even if I didn't know her well or at all.  A part of me is just lost for a while.  This kind of news shakes me to the core.

I get so angry at breast cancer.  It's a disgusting, sneaky, vile disease that takes wonderful women from those they love.  Why can't they find a cure?  Why?  What is it going to take?  If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they cure breast cancer???  Why do they continue to allow carcinogens in health care products, food and water?  When will someone really DO SOMETHING about all of this?  How many women have to die before someone REALLY makes something happen? 

My heart goes out to the many wonderful people that have been effected and lost by breast cancer.  I never thought I would have it.  It never crossed my mind this would be my life.  I am sure many of those women felt the same way.  It's so unfair.  I am just angry today!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No One Talks About Cancer Anymore

This past weekend I went back to Michigan to visit my family and some friends.  It was exactly 1 year ago this week that I started chemotherapy.  (I can't believe it has already been a year!).  Despite it being an entire year, breast cancer is still a very big part of my life.  I am desperately trying to move on and not be consumed with breast cancer and that is slowly getting better, but I don't think the thoughts and fears will ever go away.  It's just not possible.

The part I find interesting is I think everyone else in my life has moved on from my cancer diagnosis and treatment.  I look completely normal and act completely normal so I guess everyone just treats me normal.  What's hard for me is that no one even mentions anything about any of it.  It's like my breast cancer never happened.  It is so odd.

It's not like I want to talk about it all the time or anything, but I was with family all weekend and not one person brought up anything about any of it.  I guess it leaves me feeling a bit odd because it is still so prevalent in my daily life.  I kind of feel like a fraud in some ways because I look normal and healthy and act normal and healthy but the breast cancer and it's fears still live in my head.  Yes, they are less prevalent in my mind than this time last year, but the fears and thoughts still lurk in my head often.  Am I a fraud?  Am I fooling everyone?  Do they think about it and just don't say anything, or are they just over it?  I really don't know what to think anymore.  It kind of feels like a 2000 pound pink elephant in the room to me.  I wish it would go away!!!