Friday, February 28, 2020

A Change Is Gonna Come

The old Sam Cooke song, A Change Is Gonna Come, has always made me feel nostalgic. I love listening to his smooth, peaceful voice. For some reason, it reassures me that everything's going to be okay.

For the past few weeks, I've felt a stirring in my spirit. It feels like this year is going to be a year of great change.

It seems I've been stuck in a rut since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've jumped through all the hoops and have done everything I was supposed to do. It hasn't been easy. There have been many ups and downs, but I can finally say I feel an imaginary door closing behind me.  Maybe it's false hope or maybe naiveté, I am unsure but I'm both grateful and afraid. How does one move forward?

Navigating cancer isn't easy and everyone's journey is different.

For the past 6 years, it's all I've known. I am thankful to be doing so well. Honestly, I am more than thankful.

I have so many friends in the thick of the battle right now and I have one who's just about to embark on her journey. I try to offer love and support to those who are fighting. That's one of the things that meant the most to me when I was in active duty. But for the one who's just about to begin her time in cancerland, my heart breaks. I want so badly to give her a heads up, to let her know what to expect, but I don't want to scare or discourage her.  She's so optimistic right now.  I am afraid I'd burst her bubble.

But what's our responsibility toward the newly diagnosed? Should we share our knowledge or should we keep quiet?  It's a fine line to walk.

As a survivor, I've found, the days post diagnosis come with no guidelines or rules. It's a challenge to figure things out on your own, but that's what's required of us.  And day by day, change comes.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reflection

As I continue working on my book, God is reminding me of His faithfulness throughout my cancer journey. Reading back through old blog entries stirs something deep in my soul as I relieve the memory of my first steps on the breast cancer path.

It's been difficult to remember the initial pain and feelings I faced right after surgery. Though it was almost 6 years ago, it seems another lifetime ago. I wonder if I'll ever be able to forget breast cancer. I don't imagine I will.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm even trying to write a book about my experience. It's a daunting task. But if I can reach one person through my story, it will have been worth it.

Daily, I make myself sit and write even if for only a few minutes. The mental process of going through those first days again is traumatic.

I've put it off for almost two years now but I am determined to complete the book manuscript by year's end. I believe in God's perfect timing, so I will trust all of my procrastination has been part of the process.

I'd appreciate prayers as I go forward. Writing a book is hard and I have no idea what I'm doing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Annual checkup yields good news!

Yesterday I went to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America for my annual check up. For those unfamiliar with the cancer treatment center, it's an integrative facility that provides services for the body, mind, and spirit.

My day began in the survivorship department. While there, I met with the doctor and was asked about how I'd been feeling both physically and emotionally. We talked for about half an hour. The doctor and I had a few laughs and it was probably the most pleasant visit I've ever had. Instead of making me feel that she was the doctor and I was the patient, I felt like we were old friends just having a good chat. It was refreshing and I left her office feeling very optimistic.

Next was the port lab where I have my blood drawn. It's always a challenge there because I always have to explain about my lymphedema and why it's necessary to have blood drawn from my hand instead of my arm. You'd think, after 4 years of being a patient there, they'd remember or have put notes on my chart to remind them, but they don't. And it's always interesting that I am the one to point out exactly where the butterfly needle needs to be inserted to find blood, but I'm glad to do it instead of becoming a pin cushion for a newbie.

After the bloodwork was done, we had a 45 minute wait until the next appointment so I gave my husband a tour of the facility. We went upstairs to visit the library and the pool room. I showed him the chapel and the medical records department. We stopped by the inhouse wing where those in long term treatment are housed and we visited the cafeteria, gift shop, and the imaging department. When we'd completed the tour, we found a quiet corner and took time to enjoy our books.

Next stop was the oncology department where we waited another 15 minutes before I was called back and then, I waited about 20 more minutes before I heard a tap at my exam room door.  Instead of my oncologist, a nurse practitioner came in and explained the doctor was extremely behind and she would be helping me. She was very pleasant and I enjoyed my time with her. After a physical exam, she went over my labs and gave me the good news that I'm still in remission, although I prefer to use the term NED - no evidence of disease. To me, remission sounds too much like the cancer is lurking around just waiting for permission to come back. I don't want to even think about that.

As soon as she gave me the news, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I didn't realize it until then, but I'd been extremely stressed wondering what the blood work would show.

We left the cancer treatment center and went out to dinner to celebrate. It was a wonderful evening and I was so very thankful.

God has been so good to me. I am blessed and highly favored! Now, I can breathe a sigh of relief and get busy living my life.

It seems it's been so long that I've been able to focus on anything other than cancer. It feels good to feel good and to know I'm cancer free.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Beautiful sunshine

Today was such a gorgeous day! The sun was shining and what a difference that made in my mood. The past few weeks we've had nothing but overcast, dreary days and it was beginning to cause my S.A.D. to flare up.

S.A.D. is seasonal affective disorder. Basically, a person's moods are affected by the weather. Those who suffer from the disorder find themselves feeling more blue and depressed when the weather is dismal.

Phil and I worked in the yard some trimming underbrush. It was good to be outside in the fresh air. I realized, I've been cooped up in the house too many days and wondered if perhaps my Vitamin D level had dipped dangerously low again.  Since my cancer diagnosis, I've had trouble keeping it regulated. The doctor has prescribed 50,000 i.u. per week but it doesn't always bring the level up to normal. Being in the sunshine is one of the fastest ways to absorb natural Vitamin D, that's why I'm happy when the sun is out.

I've noticed more bodily aches and pains lately. Sometimes I wonder if it's just because I'm getting old or if it's a combination of age, Fibromyalgia, and the effects cancer has had on my body. In any event, I do my best to push through and keep going. Some days are more challenging than others.

Hopefully, as we enter the month of February, we'll see more sunny days than rainy ones. I'm ready for an early Spring and so is Mr. Groundhog according to the Pennsylvania critter.

Preparing to lose a friend to cancer

This weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with friends I hadn't seen in almost a year. During that time, cancer invaded the...