This time last year I was in the midst of chemo. Its amazing how much difference a year can make. Looking back now, it all seems very surreal. I would have never thought (in my wildest of dreams) that I would have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I never saw it coming. However, I got through it....with the help of Faith, Family, and Friends.
When I began dealing with surgeries and treatment, I really wanted to get it all finished in the year of 2010. I was able to reach my goal. 2010 will always be the year that I dealt with breast cancer. However, I also thought that I would put it all behind me and move on with my life. That is one reason I decided to do chemo. It wasn't something the doctor recommended but was entirely my choice. My oncotype dx was higher than I would have liked and I didn't want to always be looking over my shoulder for the big "C". Although my sentinel node was negative, my oncotype dx was 29. I listened to my spirit. Everything within me said do the chemo and so I did.
Traveling through treatment for breast cancer was definitely the most traumatic experience I have endured. Although I know I had love and prayers, I often felt so very alone. I knew this was a journey that I had to take and no one ....absolutely no one could do it for me. I made it through the valley and I'm a much stronger person today for it.
There is so much to deal with when you're handed a diagnosis like cancer. Of course, you have the medical aspect of treatment, side effects from all the toxins floating around inside your body, dealing with insurance statements and paying the endless bills. It was a full time job for me keeping up with all the EOBs, matching them to bills and making sure everything was paid. I was just grateful we had the money to pay the seemingly endless bills. I think the most difficult aspect was the emotional pain. People treat you different when you have cancer. Some disappear never to be heard from again. It sure helps you "weed out" real people and, for myself, I came to the full realization that I only had a handful of people I could count on.
I had a friend tell me not to long ago that he was sorry that he wasn't there for me last year like he should have been. Oh, I got a few phone calls from him throughout the summer but he never came to visit. He wasn't present but then, so many other people weren't either. I was impressed that he even knew he wasn't there for me.
Then you have other people who treat you like you're dying.....well, aren't we all! I have people who ask....are you in remission? Completely ....I say. Although I've never had a PET scan or tumor marking, I believe myself to be completely cancer free.
I shared with someone a few days ago that I have been walking 2-3 miles each morning. We've been getting up and walking before sunrise just trying to beat the heat. I know that exercise is so very important in helping to ensure I don't have to deal with this monster again. Anyway, this lady asks "should you be doing that?" ....like I'm an invalid or something.
I feel very different than I did one year ago; I look very different as well. I decided not to color my hair and it is salt and pepper. Its very short. I like it. Its the new me. I've lost about 10 pounds but that was due to my thyroid issue after treatment. Most importantly, I feel very different inside.
I know that life will always bring storms and sometimes we might have to dance in the rain. I know that as long as there are people in our lives, they will disappoint us....I know that I have inner strength and courage that I never knew existed. I know that life is short and we really don't have forever to do whatever it is we're here for. I know there is a place to go inside when I am scared or confused. I know that I am not afraid to die and it will be a wonderful transition into the spiritual realm. I know the power of prayer. I know that bad things don't just happen to other people. I know that we are suppose to live our lives one day at a time.......
For many, the calm after the storm isn't quite as calm as we thought it would be. The effects of chemo don't quite go away after treatment is finished. There can be neuropathy and permanent damage to vital organs. I'm not sure if the chemo caused my thyroid issue but I have read where many people developed thyroid problems while being treated with chemo. It really doesn't matter. It is what it is. I will have to take synthroid for the rest of my life; I will also have to take tamoxifen for 5 years. So far, the side effects from that hasn't been too bad. .......other than those horrid hot flashes. At times I feel like I'm going to spontaneous combust!
My storm brought challenges, it gave me insight and wisdom. However, the calm that I thought would come after making it through treatment really doesn't exist. It is an illusion. Pehaps as the years go by and I make it through that 5 year window.....perhaps as the emotional wounds heal and the body fully recovers from chemo. Perhaps there really is a calm after the storm but I haven't gotten there yet? Perhaps?
Today I take nothing for granted.....NOTHING. I don't know what storms tomorrow might bring but I do know that I am strong. I am a survivor.