No Day Like Today to Begin

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Several years ago, when I found out I had breast cancer, I went through many emotions in a year’s time. Some were predictable, others unexpected. Some came and went, others lasted or repeated. Of course, there were some overlapping feelings and contradictory emotions. But they were mine, all mine, directly a result of having a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

I met others on the cancer journey, and we shared our stories. I found that friends I had on Facebook had suffered from the disease as well as other from types of cancer, and some still suffer. I made new friends in person and online because of people reaching out. I discovered that although my feelings were mine, my sisters suffering from breast cancer, as well as others dealing with various types of cancer, had gone through or were going through many of the same emotions as me.

I’m committing to writing about the emotional experience of breast cancer, which is intertwined with and yet separate from the physical and medical experiences. This blog will have 30 posts. There’s no day like today, at the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to begin. I hope you read the blog, get something from it, and share it with others. I’m thankful that you’re in my life and cared enough to get this far.

Hugs and love,

P.S. I am not a medical or mental health professional and I’m not pretending to be one. This blog is based on my experience and insight. Always consult qualified professionals for your health and well-being.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 30: Vulnerable

Here it is: My last post in the 30-day challenge to write a post a day during breast cancer awareness month! Originally, I thought that I’d end on the topic of my last post, reflective. It made sense to discuss what I’d been through and how I’d changed. Then, I decided to end the month on a feeling that many breast cancer overcomers I know have expressed, feeling vulnerable.

Once you’ve had cancer, it’s the ghost in the rearview mirror that could come back to haunt you at any time. Before I had breast cancer, I never thought much about it. I didn’t know how common it was, and I never ever thought it might develop in me. When I went to my mammograms and exams, I just knew everything would be fine, and I’d be on my way. After I had a breast cancer diagnosis and went through surgery and treatments, my outlook was completely different.

I could never get the oncologist to state a percentage on the chances of cancer returning. It’s always a possibility that the same cancer can return, or that a completely different breast cancer can develop. From what I read online, the chance of my developing breast cancer again, based on my cancer and treatment particulars, isn’t much different now than from that of a person that never had the disease. I mean, 1 in 8 women already get breast cancer. The odds aren’t great for any woman. I, once again, joined that number.

While I know what I’ve read, I feel so vulnerable. I worry about whether the cancer will return. I dread my mammograms and physical breast exams. I’ve felt things in my breast tissue and asked for an early exam. I’ve sat in the surgeon’s chair, as she’s the one that gives the mammogram results, and wanted to get up and run away. I haven’t been given any bad news in the four years since treatment ended, almost 5 years since the tumor was removed, but the fear of getting cancer is always the in the background, haunting me.

I’d guess this fear of recurrence occurs for anyone who’s had a serious illness or an attack of some kind, like a heart attack or a stroke. I don’t dwell on the fear every day but it hits me at times, on days when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable. I think it will always be this way for me, my pink sisters and others who’ve had cancer.

It feels good to talk to other women with cancer occasionally to share our vulnerability. It somehow makes the feeling easier to bear. If you’re vulnerability and fear is getting to you, find someone to talk to. Any friend or relative you like talking to will do, as we’ve all been through something, but a cancer survivor will know how you feel. Talk to your doctor or a counselor if needed. Here, on Halloween, there are enough little ghosts and goblins out there for trick or treating. Don’t let the ghost of breast cancer change your life negatively. Be thankful for whatever life you have to live and love every moment of it.

Thank you for reading my 30-day blog on the emotional experience of breast cancer! I loved writing it and enjoyed the feedback I’ve received. My favorite moments were the connections some of you made with the emotions. Stay tuned to the next chapter of my blog, which I’ll announce soon. Love and Hugs – Denise

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 29: Reflective

Wow. I’m almost there. This is my next to last blog post for the 30-day challenge I gave myself. I’ll continue writing the blog in some way, although not daily, as it’s too much for me and for you! Writing this blog has made me feel a certain way now as I felt several months after finishing treatment: Reflective.

When you’re in the middle of a crisis or a difficult ongoing situation, it’s hard to reflect on your life. That’s because whatever’s happening IS your life along with your daily responsibilities. It permeates your brain and rattles your nerves. When I was in breast cancer treatment, I often felt like that managing treatment was all I could handle. I couldn’t put my mind and emotional state too heavily on other things. Everything else I did was going through the motions.

Once I was out of the treatment and was free and clear of cancer, I could be reflective about my life. I could consider how some days I felt that I was so strong to have made it through, and other times I’d think, Who am I kidding! I didn’t handle it well at all! The truth is somewhere in the middle. I thought about all the people who helped me get through it, especially Jeff, and how much it meant to me to get an outpouring of help, support and love.

I felt reflective about all the life I missed. It was like I had my own personal COVID restrictions! During the pandemic, I feel like life is happening but I’m not doing much living. I was the same way during chemo. The parade was passing me by. At least I got to do the most important things, so that was something. Still, emotionally I wasn’t the same, like a floating drugged feeling in my head and body affecting what I saw, experienced, and felt.

I often thought about all my body went through. Chemotherapy drugs attack cells, period. The goal is for the drugs to attack and damage or destroy cancer cells. In reality, normal cells become part of the attack. Chemo drugs can’t tell which cells are cancer and which aren’t, so a lot of normal, healthy cells are damaged and destroyed, causing side effects. Eventually, the healthy cells recover, although some damage that was done is lasting. I was left with neuropathy and some other issues. It’s a crazy thing to reflect on but it’s the best-known way to kill and prevent many cancers. Hopefully, immunotherapy that targets only cancer cells will be the most effective treatment in the future, or better yet, we find a cure.

I feel reflective about what could have happened. Some people have cancer that’s much more aggressive, more difficult to treat, or is found in a later stage and has already spread into the lymph nodes or other organs. My case was caught early enough and had characteristics that made it pretty straight forward to treat. I must confess – I had skipped a year of my mammogram. I usually got them every year, but because of being busy or whatever, I allowed two years to pass. If I’d gone the previous year, maybe the cancer was there in an earlier stage and even easier to treat. I can’t change what I did. I can only live and learn.

Living and learning is the purpose of being reflective. When you go through a tough time, it’s good to assess what you’ve been through and how it’s affected your life. Think about how it’s changed you. I feel that I’m more empathetic and kind toward people now. Also, some of my lasting side effects make life more difficult, so I talk and complain more about my health issues. What about you? How has breast cancer and treatment changed you? Or some other illness, serious accident, or extreme situation? Reflection has helped me to put the whole experience in perspective and allowed me to go on with my life using it without dwelling on it. I hope you can do the same.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 28: Manic Happiness

When I was in radiation therapy, I couldn’t wait until the last day. I wanted to ring that bell at the center. Life likes to put a damper on things. As I was about to have my last treatment or two, the radiation equipment went down. I went to the center and found out that there was no treatment that day, and they would call me about rescheduling.

I was so disappointed! The treatment center folks told me that I had to go to another center to finish my treatment. I lost a couple days in the process. It was weird. It was anti-climactic. It wasn’t exactly what I had imagined but I was through with my chemo AND radiation. Hooray!

At that point in early October, I felt much better than I had in summer. I was still tired and somewhat weak but I had built up my stamina for day to day activities. Now I was free! It was strange to not have daily appointments, and I loved it.

As I got further out from the treatment days, I started to do more fun activities. I’m not too adventurous, but to get out to the movies, go out to eat more, and shop were glorious activities for me. I felt giddy some days. This is what I called feeling manic happiness.

I remember going to our high school’s craft show. I love going to that craft show, and I go any year that I physically can do it. Of course, the corona, as my sons say, has moved it online this year. Interesting, but not the same. Anyway, in 2016 I felt so happy to be there. I was walking on clouds. I went with a friend and an intention to buy gifts! I saw a lot of parents that I hadn’t seen in a while, and they asked how I was doing. Now, it seems surreal. It was just a normal craft show day, but it made so happy to experience it.

I felt this way off and on for up to six months. My friends and I found some new places to shop, and it seemed like more fun than ever. So many cute outfits, so little time. Lots of silly laughter. We’d have lunch, and it seemed like the best food ever. When I went places with Jeff or our whole family, I was so thrilled to enjoy their company. I felt the manic type of happiness that knowing I survived and was finished with the hardest parts of beating and preventing cancer brought.

Another time of sheer happiness was when I had enough hair to go without a head covering. I started on it slowly, going from a full scarf to a band scarf or knitted band. I wasn’t confident at first, then one day in January, I took the plunge. It felt weird to have this short short hair, AND it felt great to have a head covered in hair.

I’m not sure if others saw this manic happiness in me. I may have seemed normal or frantic on the outside, I’m not sure which. I can only speak for what I felt and perceived of myself. As 2017 went on, I settled into a pattern of more normal emotions, back to my old self with a boost of kick-butt confidence.

If you’re in cancer treatment or have been in it, don’t forget to let yourself be happy! The feeling can be selfish, it’s okay. You’re saying to the world, I faced a beast, struggled more than I ever have, and I came out on the other side, smiling.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 27: Resolve

It’s a good thing to be a wordsmith and even better when there’s more than one in the house! Today, I couldn’t think of the word for my emotion. As I described things I wanted to talk about, Jeff immediately said, “Resolve.” Bingo! My prize is to write about how determine I was to see this cancer treatment thing through to its end. I felt resolve.

When I started my radiation therapy, it seemed like my treatments were never going to end. 35 treatments. One treatment every weekday for seven weeks. Seven long weeks of driving 25 minutes to the center, waiting 10-15 minutes, changing clothes, getting a 5-7-minute treatment, changing back into my clothes, and heading back across town. Good thing Panera was located in between my house and the center! It made the experience a bit more pleasant!

I’d already gone through about 24-25 weeks of chemo. Now, when I was just getting back on my feet and even had tiny hair spikes poking out of my skull, I was headed back into the fray. Let’s talk about that hair, though! It was exciting to know I’d have hair again! I was so happy about that, it supported my resolve.

Radiation treatments weren’t bad. The hardest part was lying on a cold, hard table, then needing help to get up. I don’t remember feeling anything from the beam. Maybe a tiny bit of warmth? I honestly can’t recall. My skin developed a bit of a “sunburn” to it, but it wasn’t bad. Some people have radiation treatments for cancer that are very painful and damaging. I was lucky to not be in that class.

Dutifully, I took that drive every weekday. I’d count down the weeks, then later the days. At the end of some visits, I was checked by the radiation oncologist. I continued to get weekly blood tests as well, ordered by the medical oncologist, plus at some point I went for a CT scan, echocardiogram, and maybe some other tests. I marched into one appointment and the next, using my resolve to propel me further.

Resolve isn’t the most exciting of emotions but it’s the one that helps you get things done. It makes you determined to do or complete something important to you. It made this time seem like a routine that had a definitive purpose in a project sort of way – I’d complete this project and be free of all my cancer treatments forever! (Or so I hope.)

Cancer treatment can really drag you down. All the physical, mental, and emotional effects can make you want to stop and give up. When you feel resolve, it cuts through the noise in your head and says no matter how you feel or what you think, I’m going to continue treatments until the doctor says I’m done. Rely on that feeling so you can finish your treatments and really celebrate at the end! The radiation treatment center may even let you ring the victory bell on the last day!

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 26: Mindful

Today, I’m cheating. I’m a cheater-pants blog writer. Do people still say cheater pants? Okay, done chasing that butterfly, back to the topic. I’m cheating because mindful may not be an emotion. It’s more of a state of awareness. If I’m aware of my body, how I’m feeling, where I am in life, I’m being mindful. I’m feeling mindful. So today, I’m calling mindful my Day 26 emotion.  Go ahead, call me cheater-pants if it makes you feel better.

I mentioned in another post that I’d decided that my family should take a short, easy trip before I started radiation therapy. After chemo ended, I was ready for a break. Radiation treatments would be an everyday affair for seven straight weeks. If I missed my chance to do something with the family, I’d have to wait a couple months.

Usually, the oncologists scheduled radiation treatments to begin two or three weeks after chemo was completed. I asked for an extra week so we could go to a pretty state park in Arkansas to hang out. I thought the guys could get out in the water and hike around. I was just happy to be somewhere other than at home or at the treatment center.

While I was getting used to living the chemo-free high-life, I started to feel a bit more like myself. A regular flow of drugs was not messing with my brain and body. I was still weak and couldn’t do much, but I could feel myself slowly picking my way out of my cocoon. I felt lighter, more aware of things going on around me and like I might want to do something. Anything. I started to mentally assess how I was, how I would be, and how long it would take.

Meditation is often associated with mindfulness. I’m not a meditator. I’ve tried now and again, but I can’t seem to do anything but let my mind wander and to wonder how long I should try. For me, I became mindful as I just sat with myself, not particularly thinking or doing anything, just being. There were times before and during the trip when the guys were out, and I’d just sit in the room or find a chair with a view. I’d come away with a sense of where I was, emotionally, physically. Some days, it was good. I felt good about taking the break for my own peace of mind. Some days, I cried because something happened, like when I couldn’t go back in the pool because my swimsuit hadn’t dried in the air-conditioned room and was still wet. My sensitive body couldn’t take it. I cried because that’s where I still was physically, mindful of lingering limitations, then stopping. I realized that my mind and body were the way they and that was okay as I was healing from treatment.

By the way, the trip was enjoyable! Maybe a bit underwhelming for the guys. They’re so thoughtful, and they didn’t want to leave me by myself to do things. I was happy to know that they were out paddle boarding or whatever and having fun while I was relaxing. All these years, they haven’t learned that about me! One of the most fun things we did was driving around to capture Pokémon for the new Pokémon Go! mobile game. We were together and silly, and that’s what mattered.

So, I’m not sure if what I’ve described is what mindful is. Please don’t consult an actual philosopher! I’m saying this is what it was for me, and I’m standing by it.

Sometimes, when you’re facing a health or emotional crisis, you have to step back and leave room for you. You can take 10 quiet minutes away from everyone and just sit with your coffee or tea. You might say, “I’m too busy,” but I know there are 10 minutes in your day available! Don’t worry, don’t wonder, don’t make to-do lists. Just be aware of and accept yourself, whatever state your mindfulness indicates you’re in.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 25: Yearning

Early in the process of my blog, I asked my Facebook friends if any breast cancer overcomers had thoughts on emotions to cover. I had a few days on the schedule that I hadn’t definitively filled in with a topic. Someone suggested yearning to me. At first, I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in, then as I was writing about being resentful, my mind started stirring on when I felt yearning.

Way back in the old days, specifically Day 17 of my posts, I wrote about feeling resentful of what other people were doing that I couldn’t do. At that point, I wasn’t yet looking forward. I hadn’t found my hopefulness or experienced the relief that comes with the end of chemo. Further along in the chemo weeks and after they were over, I could see that (nearly) normal life was possible again, and I yearned for it.

Think of all those things you enjoy, then block yourself from doing them for 7 months. Oh, wait, I think I just described 2020! It’s been hard to be trapped in the house, not be able to shop much, not go to a restaurant for months, and not attend any sporting events or entertainment activities that would draw crowds. Gyms closed, churches closed, theaters closed, and museums closed. Family visits were very limited, especially for visiting elderly people in nursing or senior facilities.  It’s been harder to enjoy 2020 than most other years!

When I was in treatment, I felt similarly trapped. Trapped by sickness, weakness, and too few blood cells, white and red! I couldn’t meet friends very often for shopping or fun. I couldn’t do many family activities, or even go out with Jeff so often. I was too sick to exercise. I couldn’t travel. I couldn’t scour the land for craft shows! I yearned to do all these things and more, but I limited myself to the most important things in my life because I didn’t have energy for all the rest.

Yearning wasn’t as painful as many other emotions I’d felt. When I didn’t feel well, I didn’t feel like doing anything, anyway. As the time came closer to healing from treatment, I felt the yearning for the things I could almost reach out and touch. They were getting closer, day by day. I yearned for something more, something new, or something I’d treasured and lost. Yearning was more of an emotional ache.

As with most other things that occurred during cancer treatment, I couldn’t change my circumstances, so I did what I could. I got out a bit on good days. I spent time with my family. Friends came to see me. I talked to others on the phone or message with them. I went to those most important events I’ve written about – the Wicked play, the senior year activities, the graduation and party. Even though I yearned to do so much more, it was good to get a glimpse of my “old life” to quell the yearning.

You can find ways to quell your yearning should you find yourself in a similar situation as me. It takes more planning and some prayer that all goes well, but it’s possible to get out of the house and go for a ride when you’re in cancer treatment. Get an ice cream sundae and, if you must, sit in the car to eat and talk. Invite friends to visit and ask them to pick up food. Have Facetime or Zoom visits with family members. Remember to save your energy for special occasions, if you have any coming up. You may still yearn for more, but maybe it will ache a little less.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 24: Relief

My thirty-day blog has one more week left. I’ve loved writing it, but the daily deadline has been rough. I’ll feel a bit of relief when it’s over and will take time to consider how to continue my blog from there. You may feel relieved, too. (I’m grinning at you.) One of the times in my life when I felt the greatest relief was on the last day of chemotherapy! It was an amazing feeling!

Relief is an interesting emotion. When I learned that I might have cancer but didn’t know for sure, I was incredibly anxious and scared. I still felt that way when I was told my diagnosis. When I had my first oncologist visit, I felt a little bit of relief to have information and a plan. Little though it was!

The same type of feeling came when – you guessed it – I was losing my hair. Knowing I was going to lose it, watching it fall out, and sitting while Jeff shaved off the rest were traumatic events. After it was gone, I made peace with it and felt relieved to look ahead at how I was going to handle it and what I would wear on my shiny unadorned head. That’s what got me to the point of joking about it, even though it didn’t make me happy.

As treatment days occurred, then, a few days later, the bad sickness subsided, relief washed over me each time. When I needed help and had no energy, relief came in the form of my husband or sons. Every time a meal showed up at the door, I was relieved that we didn’t have to cook. I had many moments where relief was the main emotion I felt.

None of these moments could compare to that last day of chemo. My memory of the events is vague. Jeff bought me a big chocolate bar that said, “I beat Chemo”. He took a photo of me with the bar and with my Compassion Bag and soft blanket, a special gift from Compassion That Compels that I kept with me every treatment. Even if I don’t recall every moment, I do recall walking out and feeling lighter. I didn’t have to go back the following week! No more cycle of sleeplessness, sickness, and bone aching, round-the-clock tiredness! No more accessing my port or restless legs from Benedryl! I could more fully taste food and not react badly to smells! Well, all in good time. Relief, pure relief, is what I remember.

I still had seven weeks of radiation therapy to go, but I knew that it wouldn’t be nearly as terrible as chemo. I’d need to go through some follow up tests, and I’d be on an estrogen-blocker pill for at least 5 years. I’d continue to see the oncologist on a regular basis. And the kicker: after doing all that, I didn’t know if breast cancer will haunt me again someday.

For that last day of chemo and for several weeks after, I didn’t care so much about all that. I planned a short, easy trip with my family and took a week or two extra before starting radiation treatments. I enjoyed the feeling of no more chemo and no more feeling of desperation. I reveled in the feeling of relief.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 23: Love

Love. It’s an emotion we all want to feel, whether it’s familial love, romantic love, friendship love, or love for people in general. I was looking for a time during my breast cancer journey to talk about love because I felt it all along. Today is the day to let it flow out in words!

I thought about that time when I was looking ahead to my last chemo, knowing what I’d already experienced. It helped me to focus on what was important to me. I’ve talked about the support of my family, Jeff and the boys, in various posts. I felt their love from the inside and out. They were there for me, helping me in whatever way needed. This was the #1 thing I needed to get through that difficult period, and I had it. I felt love for them that was immeasurable, and I still do.

My extended family made me feel loved by calling, messaging, sending gifts, and letting me know how much they cared. It was hard for my mom and sisters and the rest of family in PA because they couldn’t be here to help! My in-laws were so supportive. My friends, too, near and far, close or more like acquaintances, everyone poured out love and support. I often felt undeserving. Love bloomed in my heart every day, even in the ones where not much else felt like blooming!

I want to give a shout out to the doctors, nurses, aides, technician, and medical staff that had any part in my care. These people not only care about their work but have a love for helping patients and for their work that helped to get me through many difficult days.

I could go on. You’ve read most of it already in other posts. If there’s an emotion worth hashing over, it’s love. When you’re in a difficult illness or situation, such as being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, no matter your age, your stage, or your condition, the one thing that can get you through each day is love. Let it fill you, and share it with others.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 22: Hopeful

When I was first told I had a spot on my mammogram, I was so scared. I felt frightened of my fate when I found out it was cancer. Once I found out the details of my cancer, although I was frightened, I never had a sense of doom or hopelessness. Sadly, some people with cancer or other diseases are diagnosed with a terminal illness; I don’t know how they feel. My disease was treatable, not terminal – it was the silver lining that eventually came shining through, letting me feel hopeful.

The hopefulness I felt was about not letting cancer bring me down as a person. That I’d come out of it almost the same as I had been before the disease attacked. During treatment, I got flashes of that hopeful feelings at times but it was really hard to focus on any of that. I just felt miserable and wanted it to go away!

At some point, probably in early June, I was halfway through my 10 week Taxol treatments. Taxol had followed the initial AC chemo treatment. I had already started counting down the treatments. There it was; I could see it. The end of the chemo. It was a pinpoint of light at the end of a tunnel. I felt miserable, tired, stuck, and sick but it was important to be counting down toward that final chemo day. It kept me going. That light was hope!

I had hope that I wouldn’t be so sick and so sleepy. I was hopeful that I could get out and do more activities. I hoped my hair would start to grow back and that it would eventually all grow in. I felt hopeful about doing work around the house and starting up my writing work again. I felt hopeful about truly enjoying my family and friends with my head in the game!

I had a lot of things to feel hopeful about. They didn’t hit me all at once. I’d think of them from time to time. After chemo, I still had to go through radiation for 7 weeks, but for my type and stage of cancer, I was told it wouldn’t have bad side effects beyond sleepiness and maybe a minor skin issue. I thought of all the things I hadn’t been able to do during my treatment, and I couldn’t wait for the days that I felt more like me! I felt hopeful for the days to come.

5, 4, 3, 2 …

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 21: Joyful

I want to talk about happy times today! My last two posts were filled with worries over ruining my son’s senior year or not being present for the activities. Although not all was ideal, I made it through, and he enjoyed his year tremendously! As we watched him graduate and saw him enjoy his party with friends and family, I felt joyful.

There’s nothing like sharing in good emotions with those close to you. I was happy, proud, excited, and filled with joy over Tristan’s special days. Our whole family felt this way. I was so relieved to have been there and to have played a part in his special days.

Around this time frame, Tristan was working on his Eagle Scout project and had made a wonderful presentation of his work to community members and a few government officials. I was so proud of him as he did well in his presentation, explaining how he planned the project, and lead a team of Scout volunteers. He’d worked hard to achieve it and learned some life lessons. About the same time, he’d been accepted to college. It was a good time in his life, and parents are always happier when their children are doing well.

As for Jared, I felt joy about him coming home not only for the summer but back in town for his last two years of college. He was switching colleges. Although he’d live in the dorms and had only been an hour or so away, I knew I’d see him more often and likely be a bit more involved in his life. Not sure if he liked that but it sure made mama happy!

Jeff was still by my side, going through everything with me. That gave me a warm, lasting glow inside. With the boys (because they’ll always be my “boys”) around more in the summer, Jeff had a little more freedom to do some of his own things. I felt better that he was slightly less trapped as other mom-sitters were available.

I felt continued joy from my friends visiting and family calling and checking on me. I had improved a bit since my blood transfusion, although not a ton, yet I’d try to find a reason every day to smile and feel joyful. I wanted to feel joyful again on a regular basis, and I had to start somewhere.

You can do this, too. There are times when it seems too hard to feel joy, then your kids walk into the room, the dog does something funny, or a bouquet of flowers arrives and there it is, that little spark of joy. Embrace it.

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