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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feeling Like My Old Self

Today I was teaching aerobics.  I was asked to substitute for a sick instructor and teach two classes back to back.  I have not done this in years!  Though I have been running and working out a lot, I have not been teaching much as I have not been able to find anyone hiring instructors here since we moved.  I have taught fitness classes for over twenty years (gosh, now I feel "old"!) and have always enjoyed it.  This is the longest I have gone without teaching a regular class in all those years.  I didn't realize how much I missed it until today!

So today I had a Cardio Interval class.  When I got there the room was packed with a great group of ladies that were ready to sweat.  We got going and I realized how much strength and encouragement the class participants provide to ME during the workout.  I feel like I pushed myself harder than I have in a long time due to the group of ladies and the energy they provide during the class.  We worked super hard and I sweat like crazy. I thought I was going to not catch my breath after some of the intervals and my poor thighs were screaming at a few points. It was good for me though!

After that I taught a leg and abdominal class for an hour.  I have been slowly easing back into a weight training program along with running a lot but this class challenged the heck out of me.  I guess I realized how good it felt to be like I was before breast cancer.  None of these ladies know I had breast cancer at all.  To them I was just an instructor like all the others.  I am glad as I don't want anyone to look at me with pity.  I want to be a positive influence on them - not drag them down with negative thoughts of my cancer. 

I really felt like the old me.  I forgot how much I get from teaching classes.  I realized how much it inspires me to try harder and to make a difference in other people's lives.  It makes me feel so good that I helped someone do something good for themselves that day.  I also am so inspired by the wonderful people that come to my class.  They make me want to teach better, be stronger and work harder.  That is a side of me I have not seen for a while.  I hope in time I can find a place that is hiring instructors.  I want to continue helping people get fit and feel good about themselves.  The gift I get in return is amazing.  Thank you wonderful ladies in my class....you made me feel like me again!!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Normal Lunch

Since we moved to a new state after my breast cancer treatment, it is odd for me that here no one knows I had breast cancer.  I feel like a "normal" person, but with a dirty little secret.  I am finally getting settled and meeting people.  I made a new friend at my son's soccer practice and we really hit it off.  We both have boys the same age.  We are both into health and exercise.  She currently works full time as a sales rep and I was in sales for twelve years.  We just really hit it off.  So when she asked me if I wanted to meet up for lunch I was excited.

We went to lunch the other day and it was strange, but in a great way.  For the first time there was NO cancer talk.  She has no idea about my breast cancer.  It's not like I can't tell people, but once they know I am sure they will feel sorry for me or something.   It's not the kind of thing I NEED to tell people either.  It was just nice to go out to lunch and talk about the kids schools, babysitters, healthy snacks for the kids and normal mom talk.  I don't remember the last time I felt that "normal".  I guess in time I will have many more "normal" moments and the breast cancer crap will be a distant memory.  I hope so!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Penguin Cold Caps Success Story

Since I have used Penguin Cold Caps I have been in contact with many other wonderful women that have used them too.  In my communications a fellow cold cap user has agreed to let me share her story and photos on my blog so that people can see that other women have had success with them too.  Here is Laura's story in her own words.

When I heard the word chemo, I don’t think I heard another word the oncologist said. I did not want chemo. All I knew about chemo was that it makes you sick and even worse, you lose your hair.  The thought of losing my hair was devastating. I would not look like me. I would look like a sick person.  I felt I would lose my privacy. My health should be something that is my choice to tell.  Once you lose your hair, that choice is gone. I did not want the sad looks and questions. I felt despair.

My daughter sent me a link to a website that she just happened to come across. It turned out to be the Penguin Cold Cap website. Neither of us had heard of cold cap therapy, but we couldn’t wait to find out about it. I immediately got on their website and inquired about cold caps. I was so excited to hear back from Frank (the inventor) that very day. Could I really keep my hair?  I couldn’t believe it!

I have completed my chemo treatments and have kept all of my hair. Seeing myself throughout chemo looking like my old self helped me get through it with a positive attitude; look good, feel good!  The people I work with told me they couldn’t believe I was going through chemo, I looked so healthy.

I read that 10% of women will not undergo chemo because they don’t want to lose their hair. Most women say losing their hair was the most difficult side effect they faced, far more difficult than they had imagined. I am so happy I found out about the cold caps. When I look at myself and see my hair, I still can’t believe it!


Here is Laura before chemo

Laura wearing a Penguin Cold Cap on chemo day:

Here is Laura three weeks after her final chemo:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Making Limoncello

I have been thinking a lot about how I have been coping with breast cancer.  I never thought I would get to a place where I was not consumed with breast cancer 24/7.  It's not like I don't think about it, but I have gotten to a place where it doesn't take over every thought and moment of my life.  That is huge for me!  I never thought I would get here!

I guess none of us have control over what is dealt to us.  We have to push through it no matter how horrible, scary or overwhelming it is.  It's not like the problem or diagnosis is going to go away on it's own, so we have to face the reality of it and continue to move forward whether we want to or not. 

At the beginning of my breast cancer journey, I thought I would never be able to do all of this, but I did.  I am not stronger than anyone else, I was simply dealt this crap and I had no choice but to deal with it.  Those looking in from the outside think that we are some type of "superheroes" and that we possess a different strength than they do.  They say things like "I could never do what you did" which drives me nuts!  I had no choice!  If you were dealt my situation, you would do it too!

So I guess what it comes down to is that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  I guess in my case since I am Italian, I choose to make limoncello! I am trying to make the best of each day eventhough breast cancer has become a part of my reality. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paying It Forward

I remember when I first was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mind was going to some pretty morbid places.  I just could not figure out how I would continue my life the same way after getting this diagnosis.  It seemed so completely overwhelming and impossible.  I guess really the whole process of treatment and the road ahead of me seemed unimaginable.  I was shaken to the core and devastated.

In one of the early days after my diagnosis, I met a woman named Kathy.  She reached out to me and was my "angel".  She saw me at the cancer center and knew by the look on my face what was going on as she had lived it exactly one year before me.  She has become a dear friend over the past year and has inspired me, given me hope and encouragement.  She has a wonderful spirit and zest for life.  She taught me that life can go on after a breast cancer diagnosis and has renewed my faith. 

Let's face it, family and friends are loving and supportive as you go through breast cancer, but no matter how hard they try, they just don't "get it".  Having the opportunity to share my feelings about going through breast cancer with someone that "gets it" made all the difference for me.

I knew after I spoke with Kathy a few times, I wanted to "pay it forward".  I wanted to find a way to help someone else dealing with this disgusting disease.  I didn't know how I would help someone, but I knew I had a strong desire to do it somehow.

I am overjoyed as I have found an opportunity to volunteer as a peer to peer counselor for breast cancer patients and to answer calls on a breast cancer hotline.  I had an interview yesterday and was asked to join the team of breast cancer counselors and supporters. I am truly excited about this amazing volunteer opportunity to be someone that "gets it" to someone going through the worst time of their life.  I can't wait to start "paying it forward" and making a difference!