Monday, April 29, 2013

A Life I Don't Know How To Live In

I so desperately need a "how to be a cancer survivor" booklet, pamphlet, brochure, whatever!

When I was diagnosed there was so much information about breast cancer: what is currently happening in my body, what to expect during and after surgery, how the recovery process will go, the possible side effects, how to exercise during physical therapy, etc etc. I was overwhelmed at times, but also thankful for this wealth of information. I had no problem making the decisions I needed to for my health and I felt confident in the path I was choosing.

I am having a much harder time settling in to my proud cancer-free status. I feel as if cancer has completely robbed me of the normal, carefree life I used to lead. I felt pretty good after my exchange surgery. I felt strong and proud in my cancer survivor role. But my strength and pride seem to be crumbling each day as I just try to return to my normal life. I don't know why this is hitting me all of the sudden right now. It's been over a year now since I've been declared cancer free.

My allergies are killing me this spring. It's causing me some dizziness, light headedness, and an all around feeling of not being able to concentrate. This hit me hard during the weekend and I started to panic. Even this morning on my way to work I had to struggle with myself to not get off the train and just head back home. I just don't feel right and it's because of my damn allergies. I know this, but I feel like I am hyper aware of how much I am not in control of what is happening in my body and that scares me at times.

I discussed with c.d. about going to talk to someone. I feel guilty though. What do I have to complain about really? I didn't have to go through chemo or radiation. I am not on any medication. I am cancer free... so what is my problem?

Any survivors out there who can recommend how my transition into survivorship can go more smoothly? I'll try anything!

- J.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Somewhere Out There

10. That's a big number. It's been 10 years to this day since you passed away. It seems like just yesterday. I replay the evening in my mind at times and it's always so crystal clear. You passed away peacefully in your home surrounded by family.

We had music playing. You know that Music Choice station on Comcast TV? We had that on; thanks to you mom I can never ever listen to that damn "Somewhere Out There" song without turning into a crying, snot puddle mess. Zoe was curled up in a little white fluff ball at the end of your bed. As the night went on and April 15th approached I whispered in your ear that I loved you and you responded with your eyes closed, "I love you too baby." Those words meant the world to me then and still do today. Around 12:30am you took your last breath and I knew everything would be different.

You were the best mom a girl could ask for. I look up to you and hope to have at least an ounce of the beauty, love, compassion, patience, and strength that you possessed. You were filled with wisdom and I was lucky enough to use your own words in my eulogy to you. You wrote in a card once how losing a loved one creates a scar on one's heart. Over time that scar fades a bit and becomes softer. It's always there, but it will always be a gentle, happy reminder of our loved one and all the good times you had together. I couldn't have said it better, and I wouldn't dare try.

I have so many wonderful memories of you. I never forget the good times! We had so many. I dream about you periodically. It's always nice to see your face, you're always smiling. I can still hear your voice, and I think about the things you'd say to me now. As I navigate through my life and deal with all the good and bad things it throws at me, I know you are beside me every step of the way.

I made this video for you just months after you passed away. I cherish it and am so happy I can watch it every day and see you and me together again.

I love you mom.

- J.

Monday, April 8, 2013

We’re all immortal until we have a name of what can kill us...

Can we talk about panic attacks for a post please? What the heck are they all about? I mean really. I'll be fine one minute and then the next minute I am totally psyching myself out.

About two weeks ago I felt like I was having abdomen problems so what do I do? I go exploring of course! I then find a bump. A really teeny tiny bump. Has that always been there? Is it new? What could it be?? So instead of ignoring it I made a doctor appointment. I needed a general physical and blood work done anyway... I show my doctor the bump. He was impressed that I even found it. Doctor, I had cancer, please, I will now find every lump / oddity in my body. He said it was just a cyst. He's felt millions of them, it's not attached to anything, and people get them there all the time. Whew. Safe. For now...

Damn you mind! Why can't you rest? I don't get panic attacks often. Actually, they are quite rare. But I had two small ones on Saturday. Two! One driving with c.d. and then one in the movie theater with Kev. Why? I'm not 100% sure. I had an awful headache while driving so that may have been why. Once one starts it's SO hard to talk myself out of it, but I was able to this time. I try to take really deep breaths and just tell myself it's a panic attack and nothing serious.

Trying to pinpoint the causes are important to me. Usually it's a pain that triggers it and then I think said pain must be leftover cancer cells. But this time I think the panic attacks were triggered by something different. Over the past couple of weeks two young breast cancer bloggers passed away at the ages of 29 (Bridget Spence) and 33 (Lisa Lynch). I was very very saddened to hear about their deaths and could not believe that breast cancer is still claiming such young lives. My mom passed away at the young age of 49 and my aunt at 42. I thought we were done with this. I thought progress was being made. Where is it? I demand it!

Speaking of my mommy, the 10 year anniversary of her death is a week away. I'm actually dreading it. Over the past years it has sucked once the day was here, but the dread never built like it is this year. Maybe I've just been thinking a lot about her lately.

I guess it just seems I have a lot going on in my head. How does one turn it all off? Can ex-cancer patients suffer from PTSD because I feel like I am going crazy over here!

- J.

* This post's title is a quote from Helen Cooksey in an interview she gave HERE with Dr. Susan Love. *