Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bitchfest 101

I'm annoyed and frustrated.  I'm tired of being positive, I'm tired of being strong, I'm tired of dealing with cancer.  And I'm mad.

I'm mad that my daughter has to worry about me.  No 8 year old should have to do that.
I'm mad that I'm tired all the time.
I'm mad that I'm losing my eyelashes.
I'm mad that I can't have a drink every once in awhile.
I'm mad that we had church pictures this week...even though it's a great wig, it's not me.
I'm mad that someone is staying with me all the time, even though I know I need it.
I'm mad that my house keeps falling apart.

I'm mad that I see so many great pictures of people on vacation and I get NO vacation this year.
I'm mad that I have to take off a day of work every week to get chemotherapy.
I'm mad that I'll have to miss more work down the road for surgery.
I'm mad that this is such a long treatment process.

I'm mad that the first thing that comes to people's minds when they see me is "how are you feeling?"  Although meant well, answering it is getting really old.  I hate that they feel they have to ask.
I'm mad that I can't go to Camp Gladiator.
I'm mad that I haven't gotten 10,000 steps in one day in weeks.
I'm mad that I have very little energy to do much outside of work.
I'm mad that I don't see my friends as often as I like because I have no energy to do anything.
I'm mad that any chance of dating has gone out the window.

I'm mad that with any ache or pain my mind starts thinking I've got metastasis.
I'm mad that this cancer has such a high rate of recurrence.
I'm mad that I can't get it out of my head that I will be stage 4 eventually.
I'm mad that I keep thinking negatively, because although understandable, those thoughts are NOT a good place to be.

I'm mad that I have to do any of this.  It's not fair, it's not right, and NO ONE should have to deal with this, including me.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What a rude interruption!

Cancer is rude.  It interrupts a person's life in a flash, turning it upside down and inside out. It sounds crazy to say, but I don't think I ever really realized that before becoming a cancer patient.

The first kind of interruption is pretty obvious.  It's the changes everyone can see from the outside looking in.  After a cancer diagnosis, life becomes more about doctor appointments, testing, more doctor appointments, treatments.  It becomes about finding the new normal, the logistics of living with cancer, the daily changes in schedules, not only for the patient but for their support system.

The second kind of interruption is more subdued.  This is the interruption that is even more obvious to me....the changes in how I am living my life.  Cancer interrupts many of my plans, my goals, my ideas of things I want to get done.  Cancer saps my energy and motivation, and that's challenging for me.  A few weeks ago I mentioned I wanted to plan an annual 5K to raise money for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) research.  Have I done anything about it since?  Nope.  I have a blog I want to write about IBC and the statistics surrounding it.  I had someone who is very knowledgeable about IBC send me information about it, but have I read any of that information?  Nope.  I have planned to start exercising again, yet every day I have had to cancel those plans as I am just too tired.  I know exercise will help my fatigue, yet I'm too fatigued to get moving.  Ironic.

I know, I know....I need to rest and can get to this stuff later.  I get that.  But it gets very old very quickly.

The silver lining about all this is I can better understand how oncology patients feel.  When I talk with patients at work, I have been very guilty of not remembering they are dealing with interruptions too.  And some of them....the leukemia patients who are in the hospital for a month, or the cancer patients who end up in the hospital for 2 weeks fighting an infection....have greater interruptions than I (hopefully) will ever have.  So being a patient will help me relate to them better, to empathize with them, and to be aware of the interruptions they are facing.  And for that, I'm grateful.

But still....cancer is a rude jerk.  And I can't wait until I start feeling better and can get back doing things that are me!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Not letting CANCER take over

The picture above makes me think of what the inside of my mind must look like right now. Since being diagnosed, all I think about is CANCER, and then the associated other things that go with it. Oh, sometimes other thoughts squeak in...God, family, work, friends, etc. But CANCER always seems to take back over and to do so very quickly.

I have so much on my mental "to do" list, but stopping CANCER from dominating my thoughts is the first thing I need to do.  And I know I'll be able to, because it's still new, and fresh, and difficult.  But I don't like CANCER having such a big part in my life, the biggest part of my life.  I need to be someone living with cancer, not having CANCER controlling my life.

I'll get there.  It's a hell of a long road, but I'll get there.  I'm too strong and have come through too much in my 43 years to let one word rule me.  So screw you CANCER, and go back to the small letters you are.  I will live with cancer, but I won't let it be first in my life.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fight Like Me

One month ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And when I get a major illness, I do it with gusto!  Not only do I have breast cancer, but I have Stage 3, triple negative, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).  I'll go more into the specific medical details in another blog, but triple negative breast cancers make up 15-20% of all breast cancers and IBC makes up less than 5% of all breast cancers.  Basically, I'm an overachiever.

I decided to start blogging again to help bring awareness to the diagnosis of IBC.  IBC doesn't show up as a lump.  It appears as redness on the breast.  It can have swelling, and peau d'orange (skin that looks like an orange peel), or the breast can have an inverted nipple.  The only symptom I noticed immediately was redness on my skin.  I thought I had cellulitis, a skin infection.  When I looked closer, I did have some peau d'orange, but a very small amount.  And I had mild swelling.

The thing is, IBC is SO aggressive, that it often appears between scheduled mammograms. Mine did.  And it's not always detected on mammograms, although mine was.  IBC is diagnosed at least as a Stage 3, ALWAYS.  That's because with the inflammatory nature of this cancer, the cancer cells clog up the lymph channels and lymph nodes.  The spread to lymph nodes is automatically labeled Stage 3 disease.

Breast cancer gets SO much research money, but more needs to be done towards IBC. There's got to be better detection, more discussion, increased education.  And I want to do whatever I can to help that.

But I'm also hoping this blog will be about more than IBC.  It will be about someone living with cancer.  It will be about the support and love that has come my way.  It will be about chemotherapy and surgery and radiation.  It will be about relationships, new and old.  It will be about my sweet girl and how she is handling all this.  It will be about working on an oncology unit while going through treatment myself.  At times, I'm hoping it will be funny, and sweet, and maddening.  But most of all I want it to be real.

When I started blogging years ago, I named this blog "A Journey of Sorts".  I never knew how true that title would be.  But it is definitely a journey, and I have A LOT more to say.