July 29, 2010

cancer free!

scan yesterday...
... and results show no evidence of disease...which means i'm officially cancer free!

July 25, 2010

a year ago...

...my entire world changed. a year ago yesterday was the day i found out i had a large mass in my chest, and that i probably had cancer. i spent the weekend in fear, and going through what i imagine everyone does when you hear you probably have cancer. so, this year, i'm spending a lot of time this weekend reflecting. reflecting on how thankful i am to be on the 'other side', not to be in the same place i was last year, and for how far i've come...

over the last year i've handled the toughest challenges life has ever thrown at me...physically, mentally and emotionally. and, i know i'm a better person because of it. i feel as though i've been totally grounded...i feel as though i'm finally the person i always wanted to be. i no longer worry (as much) about the little things, i don't get caught up in meaningless drama that so many people around me do. i've realized that these things don't matter, and are so small on the scale of things we could possibly be dealt. every time i face an issue, i remind myself that it's not worse than what i've been through in the past year. it's not that these little things don't bother me...they often do. it's just that now i realize that things are as they are...and that there's always a way to get through something. if i can push myself through a year with cancer, i can certainly push myself through the every day challenges life throws my way...

i've also developed more depth and understanding of my own emotions. i remember a fellow survivor telling me before this all started that her highs are now much higher, and her lows are lower. i guess the best way to say it is that if emotions were colors, all of mine would be more bold than they ever have been. and, of course, with a heightened range of emotion i experience sadness and fear more than ever before...but that allows me to recognize how happy i am, and to find joy and excitement in the little things each and every day.

and, i have direction. i know what i want to do with my life, and i've had a serious fire lit under me that will propel me forward towards that goal...even when it gets tough. i feel like i've found my place in this world, and that my experiences this past year (and those that will continue forever) have been totally worth it to be where i am now.

so, this year, as i spend this weekend reflecting on where i was at this exact same time last year...i'm so grateful. not just to be on the 'other side', but to have come out of this a better, and more real person than i ever have been. i'm more genuine, and more 'me'...and, now i feel as though i actually know who 'me' is. it's a wonderful feeling. but, of course, this feeling of total happiness doesn't come without moments of sadness and fear of the unknown. but, i wouldn't trade where i am now for anything in the world...

July 22, 2010


i really do want to blog more...i say that a lot. but, somehow, i always end up here...about a month from my last blog post. and, really, i don't have a whole lot to report...which is a good thing. it means life has returned to a little bit of normalcy.

but, just a little bit. i still think about cancer every day, have moments of serious anxiety, and worry about the 'what if'. it's going to be a long process to recovery, if there is such an end destination. i'm slowly learning to re-direct myself to something productive when i feel anxiety coming on. i've created epic 'to-do lists' just to keep myself busy when i need to be busy, and have learned to lean a little bit on others for support. i'm definitely making progress, and i definitely have a long, long ways to go.

i think a lot of this recovery process, and becoming a survivor, is about acceptance. we do a lot of denial in our lives...from the initial denial that 'cancer won't happen to me' to the whole process of denying that this cancer could kill me, that i could have serious long term health issues from treatment, and my biggest denial...that cancer won't effect me negatively at some point.

now that i've started my journey as a survivor, i'm beginning to accept things as they are. i had cancer, i will live with uncertainty for the rest of my life, i had some pretty hardcore treatment, and i have some pretty serious emotional scars. i'm also learning to accept that it's not what has happened to you, or will happen to you, but how you handle it. we can't change the hand we're dealt, but we can control how we play it. it's about taking ownership of the things we do well, and the things that we struggle with. it's about facing our difficulties, looking them right in the eye and developing ways to overcome them...or at least to live civilly with them. it's about taking steps forward, despite fears telling us to stand still. and, it's about accepting that who we are now is different than we've ever been before...and embracing the new person we have become.

my biggest struggle has been planning for the future. i've realized that for the past year, i've been at a stand still. i wasn't planning for anything except how i'd get through each two week increment between treatments, or to the next appointment, scan, test, etc. i really didn't think beyond the end of treatment...it was as if surviving cancer was the only thing i was living for. but, that's what i needed to do...i needed every ounce of my emotional and mental focus to be on getting through. so, i reached that goal...i finished treatment. now, i push forward. but, there's a lingering 'what if' that nags at me every single day. as i plan to start my masters, every single step i take is tainted by a little worry...i purchased my first text book earlier this week and before i hit 'submit payment' i thought, shouldn't i wait until i have a clean scan? before i gave my notice at work, i wondered...what if my scan isn't clean? these thoughts don't stop me from pushing forward, but they create a significant pause. being a survivor means i'll have to deal with this forever...it will become less noticeable over time, but it will always be there. my challenge now is to hear the nagging, and make a concious choice to push forward despite any fear. as i said at the start of all of this...as soon as you stop living, cancer wins. i won't let that happen.

the textbook arrived yesterday. i threw out the receipt. i'm pushing forward.