Welcome to my world

I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I've learned that who you have in your life matters more than what you have.
Thank you for stepping in to my world!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 823

Stole this from my Bella friend Deb Inzana...
(If you think it's a little dramatic, you've probably never "you have cancer")

“What’s it like to go through cancer treatment?"

It’s something like this:

One day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOD THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.
So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion - “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” - and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.
Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”
As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy - they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself - why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an asshole for even thinking that - besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?
Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you - maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband - comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “GODDAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.
Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ASS, but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And your husband is now staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”
Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.
Maybe. You’re not sure - it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.
And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”
Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!”
And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is “f*ck this mountain, I never wanted to climb it in the first place.”

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 815

One of my Bella friends posted this in our group, and it's worth a read.

17 Things No One Tells You About Breast Cancer

There are so many "myths" and misconceptions about breast cancer.  The ones I'm struggling with now are #15 and #16.  For two years my life revolved around tests and procedures designed to rid my body of breast cancer.  I had mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, a bone scan, a PET scan, biopsies, blood draws, chemotherapy (8 treatments over 5 months), surgeries (7 to this date) and radiation (33 treatments).  As you can imagine, that is all-consuming and pretty much took over my focus.  I've skated through being a wife and mom, a daughter, sister and friend.  Thankfully I have incredible people who love me and forgive me for that.  The bottom line is when you have cancer, you have no choice but to be selfish and focus 100% on yourself.

But then, after all of that, after 815 days of that, what's next?  Yes I am healthy.  Yes I am better than I have been in over two years.  I have no signs of cancer so I live with the mantra "no news is good news" every single day.  But that doesn't mean I'm "over it".  Here's why:

  • The fear never leaves.  Never.  I wonder every day if that will be the day that cancer comes back.  I don't have routine scans, so I have no "proof" that stupid little cancer cells aren't lurking somewhere.  I worry about every ache and pain, every bump and lump, because I can't help it.  I'm not a pessimist.  I'm a realist.  I've already faced the worst case scenario, so it's impossible not to go there again, at least in my mind.
  • My body is living proof of my fight.  I've gained weight.  My hair is short and almost 100% gray.  I have limited range of motion in my left shoulder and almost zero feeling in my chest and under my arm thanks to my surgeries.  And the scars, oh the scars.  I look like I've been pieced together like Frankenstein.  Not kidding.  Obviously there are scars on my chest, but also on my stomach and legs.  I will never again look good in a bathing suit.  For someone who has struggled with low self esteem forever, looking at myself is a low blow.  Every time.  Yes, being alive is beautiful, and being a strong fighter is beautiful.  But my body is not beautiful.
  • Everything hurts.  And I'm so incredibly tired.  I was thrown into menopause at age 41.  Menopause is no fun anyway, but for it to happen instantly is really no fun.  And thanks to chemo after-effects and the estrogen blocker I'm on, I have bone and joint pain.  Every time I stand up, I do it slowly like an old woman.  My knees crack on every step when I climb stairs.  I have restless legs every single night (and sometimes during the day).  I take medicine to counter the side effects of other medicines.  
Like that article says, "It's okay to not be okay."  Hopefully as time goes by I will be more and more "okay".  But my last surgery was less than two months ago, so even though this all started back in 2013, everything is still pretty fresh for me.  And as #17 says, "You are left alone to figure out the clusterfuck that is now your life."  Excuse the language, but that pretty much sums it up.  I don't want to sound like a complainer.  I'm just doing my best to accept the "new normal" of living with everything I've been through.  

I'm so incredibly grateful to be alive.  The people in my life have been so wonderful and supportive, helping when I need it, lifting me up when I am down, taking care of my family when I couldn't.  I've needed them so much, and they were there (and still are).  The only thing I ask of anyone who knows someone who has been through this - please don't assume everything is all right, that the person is "over it".  In truth, it's probably never going to be completely  "all right" for them.  

I'm still Michelle, but I won't ever be the same.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 812

So I discovered that heat helps my restless legs (a little).
One night the outside of my right knee was the problem.  I heated up my rice bag and put it on there.... settled right down.
Tonight I am sitting on the couch with my heating pad over my knees to keep my legs still.  So far so good.

Unfortunately, in addition to restless legs syndrome, hot flashes are also a side effect of Arimidex.
FYI Heat does NOT help with hot flashes.

Just another day in the life.....or should I say another sleepless night?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 811

Life is HARD.
Even without cancer.  Family issues, family health issues, friend issues, parenting issues....
It's so hard.

This is what the side of my refrigerator looks like:

The medicine I take every day is in the cabinet right next to that.  Every morning, as I swallow pills that will hopefully keep me alive for a long time, I stare at the side of my fridge.

That's my whole world.  Right there.
My husband.  My children.
My mom and my dad.
And Allyson, the angel I look to for hope and strength when life gets too hard.  She was the queen of pep talks, and if she couldn't come up with a pep talk, then she would crack a joke.  Or give a great hug.

Even though I had a fantastic weekend away (which will be a post for another day), tonight, life is HARD.

But it's my life, and it's a life full of those blessings right there.
Thank God.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 796

Life is too short.

How many times have you thought that?  How many times have you said that?  How many times has something happened to remind you of that?

As I sit here at my laptop today, coughing and hacking and cursing the world because I have the cold from hell, my eyes are watering, it's freaking windy outside, my joints ache from my new medicine and every night I have the worst restless legs.....I came across a blurb on Facebook that Joey Feek (one half of the country duo Joey & Rory) said goodbye to her daughters.

Oh my freaking God.

I don't know her.  Even though I listen to country music, I couldn't even tell you one of their songs.  I don't know how old she is and can't even remember what kind of cancer she has.  All I know is that she's a beautiful woman, a loving mom and is going to have to leave this world way too young.  She knows she is going to die soon, and she had to say goodbye to her children.

Life is too short!

None of us know when we will die.  But I can just about bet that anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer has thought about it.  I have.  I was told at age 40 that I had stage III cancer.  Um, I'm still supposed to have more than half of my life to live.  Knowing I'm going to do that with the worry that cancer might come back sucks.  Plain and simple.  Knowing that, and knowing I have a husband who is my whole world and children whom I love dearly..... there are no words.

Cancer isn't always a death sentence.  I know that.  But cancer is everywhere, and more often than not, the beast wins.  I'm a fighter, and an optimist, but the worry is there.  Always.  After eight rounds of chemo, thirty-three rounds of radiation, seven surgeries.... will I have to do this all again someday?  If I do, and it doesn't work, how do you find the words to say goodbye to the people who make your world brighter?

Kind of makes my stupid cold seem insignificant.

I'm off to take some more medicine, stock up on cough drops and tissues and put on a hat.  I have a football game and a softball game to go to, because even though I'm sick, life is too damn short!