First of all, the week break in my posts was because I was visiting family and friends over the last 10 days. I am pretty confident there weren't many people waiting by their computers on Monday for my post but I am going to trail off of my journey for this post.
I think the only way there will be any benefit to this blog is if my reader truly understands the feelings that a cancer patient goes through before, during, and after a diagnosis. Not only is writing in this blog therapeutic for me...I also know that I am not the only one experiencing these feelings. This may be an extremely vulnerable post but, again, if I am not being honest I am not benefiting anyone.
I do my best to stay positive. I hold my head up, and have a sense of pride for what I have been through. I truly do feel like a warrior. I feel like I battled the worst kind of war any human might ever battle. Sure, it could have been much worse, and I am so thankful it wasn't. Its those feelings that I try to remind myself of. I hold on to the fact that I am here. I am currently healthy. I am able to travel and see my friends and family, I have energy to walk daily and experience new things, and I have so much in my life to be thankful for...and in all of its simplicity....I AM ALIVE. I don't want any of this to come across as if I don't appreciate everything I have right now. I don't want it to come across as though all of my positivity and happiness is gone because it isn't.
There are no words that can describe how I felt when I received that phone call on April 8 telling me I no longer had cancer. In fact, I think it set me on a high for several weeks. Followed up by that high was continuously feeling better post surgery and knowing that some sense of normalcy was going to return to my life. Following that was the fact that I would soon see my brother marry his best friend, I would see much of my family I hadn't seen since my diagnosis, and I would visit my best friend as well. I was on cloud 9. After going through hell for 6 months...I had so much to look forward to and I was excited for every one of those moments to come. Seeing my family and friends for the first time, hugging them, knowing they were crying because they were just happy I was there...meant everything to me. I cant even imagine what emotions they were going through. There was not much they could do for me, other than "be there" for me while I went through everything.
Something happened last week and I am not sure that I can actually put it in to words but I can try. I am not sure that I can pinpoint why this happened but I have decided it's because that high may have temporarily worn off. I wondered if it was normal. I wondered if I put this out there, if a million other cancer survivors would step forward and admit that they went through these crazy feelings too. Crazy feelings...that's what it feels like. Its panic, its anxiety, its fear, its almost like an OCD feeling of what's wrong with me...something is wrong with me. My back hurts, my arm hurts, is there a bruise there...no there's not a bruise there...why does it hurt, my lymph node feels swollen, it hurts when I breathe...CANCER IS EVERYWHERE!!!! It sounds insane when I write that. I even find myself going through all of the facts and statistics. I had the most common type of breast cancer, that didn't spread to my lymph nodes and I had a great response to chemo. My pet scan didn't show cancer anywhere else. This is crazy thinking...I feel crazy! I feel crazy after typing all of that.
Not only was I dealing with those emotions, but I was also going through some of the physical obstacles as well. I know this all has to be perfectly normal. I'm watching my hair grow and I am so happy its growing...I really am...but I miss my long hair. I miss being able to put it in a ponytail and tucking it behind my ears. I find myself looking at these super cute short hair cut styles and I cant wait till I can rock one of those looks...but I'm quickly reminded its going to at least be another year before I can even do that. I don't even know where to begin with my mastectomy. It saved my life. That's the bottom line. For that I am so fortunate and thankful and blessed to have had the most amazing doctors to pull me through. At the end of the day, I have these insane looking lumpy rocks that look different every single day. I don't necessarily see the scars...that's not what gets me. They just aren't mine and currently they look like Frankenstein boobs. They aren't comfortable at all and I blame them for the majority of my back pain because that's way more realistic than the thought that I have cancer in my spine. Or maybe it isn't...I don't know. In that same breath...I flip my brain in the other direction. These expanders are a part of my journey, they are temporary, they will soon be gone...embrace them.
Maybe this is the Tamoxifen talking. I just know that this past week, I found myself spending a lot of time convincing myself that I was over analyzing every single little thing. I found myself feeling sad and worrying a lot. I am usually able to turn that all around as quickly as it comes but this past week was different. It left me wondering if this is what I have to live with now. Even that simple little thought scares me. Living with this much anxiety and fear...it seems pretty miserable to me. After speaking with one of my "breast" friends, Lynette, and hearing PTSD...it kind of made sense. Though I don't want to accept that it is something like that, it makes too much sense. I am thankful for women like Lynette in my life. Having other women who relate to every feeling I am experiencing is very comforting. I know I am not the only one who has these fears and I really want to open this particular blog post up to other women who are experiencing the same feelings. I think its extremely important for us all to know we aren't crazy, we aren't alone, and everything we are feeling is perfectly normal.
The quote I posted above is all I have to go on right now. I have to let my faith be bigger than my fears. I have to remind myself that I was given this path for a reason. I cannot let these fears consume me. It is so much easier said than done but I felt like it was important for me to get this out. I have full intentions of getting back on the horse with my "happy to be alive" attitude. I just cannot pretend that these feelings don't exist. I know all I can do is continue to eat healthy, work out, stay positive, and most of all...trust in God.
Being told you have cancer is something close to having your heart broken...probably worse. The only problem is you don't "move on" from this sort of broken heart. You become an entirely new person and while that new person may see life with the most amazing and clear perspective possible...you still have to figure out how to live with your new self...both physically and emotionally. Will your loved ones be accepting of the new you? Will they go on that roller coaster ride of emotions with you? Will they be patient with you while you go through all of the unexpected and confusing emotions? It is impossible that they could possibly understand exactly how we feel but that's why we have each other right? The only solace I find in any of this...is knowing I am not alone. I know these feelings are normal and I am not as crazy as I feel like I am. I really want to encourage anyone reading this to post your experiences below. Maybe you have some tips for how you get through these feelings, or maybe you just need to vent and let it all out. PLEASE DO!!!!