I got a CLEAR scan!!
I went back to work.
I spent the last 5 months HEALING.
I have been mostly SILENT.
I can’t tell you why, I am not even sure myself. I do know that I felt tired of talking, thinking, breathing cancer, its treatments and their side effects. I spent the first 12 weeks after radiation/chemo in as much pain as when I was undergoing treatment, so I felt like there wasn’t much to report. I was tired of feeling pain and certainly didn’t want to illuminate it.
I wanted to heal. I focused on healing. I pushed myself back into life so that my body would remember how to live.
But, no writing.
I couldn’t write. It was too soon to reflect. The PTSD too real.
And, I no longer sat in my bed all day. In fact, I probably should’ve sat in my bed a little bit longer, but I couldn’t! I craved life. I craved fresh air. I craved nature. I craved me and remembering the person I was before I became “patient”. My days were still full with 1-2 appts a day.
I was grateful for all the support that carried me through that hellish time yet equally resentful that even with treatment ending I still didn’t get to REST. But, I continued to go with an open heart because I knew it was best for me.
And then, the PET scan. In true “me” fashion, I sent my husband to work and went by myself. I didn’t announce the date coming so I could truly be present in the moment. I wanted to silently reflect on the last 6 months since the original scan, to appreciate how far I had travelled and to marvel at the beauty that this trauma has provided. I was very clear that no amount of praying or mindfulness would change the result, but I held steadfast in the belief that it would be clear. It had to be clear. The doctors said they could cure this cancer. I walked through fire to get to the other side. It had to be clear.
I put in my earbuds.
I wrote in my journal.
I held my favorite crystal.
I let go of control.
When the call came a week later, I simultaneously cried and laughed and asked my poor oncologists to repeat his words so I could memorize them. He read me the entire report and sent it to me verbatim-he knows how I am! I immediately asked him to release me to work. I don’t know that I was “ready” but I was ready to try.
So here I am one month after that moment. The past month has been hard, but exhilarating. My return to work has been somewhat incognito, to both my friends and my colleagues. I have been in the spotlight so much, I have so much residual PTSD, I needed a “soft return” if you will. Working is a welcome challenge. Having to concentrate, having a schedule, being “on”. But it has been so GOOD being with people, being productive, feeling useful. I love my job and am so excited to be back amongst the land of the living.
In the midst of that, my husband was presented his dream opportunity to open a barbershop. It was fast, it was unplanned, it was right. So in the midst of my healing and subsequent return to work, he opened a shop. Business plan, financing, permits, inventory, clients and chair rentals have consumed his days and our conversations. It has been incredible to witness, an honor to walk alongside his passion.
And so is life.
And I am so grateful to be given another opportunity to live. I plan for it to be another 45+ years. To grow old with my barber husband. To watch my boys grow to be men. To see a wrinkled and gray haired woman in the mirror.
In the meantime, my mouth and tongue continue to heal, my shoulder and neck continue to relearn movement, my hair is returning!! My saliva is increasing, my swallow is pretty good. I can eat most foods with concentration. I can speak moderately normal and at increased volume again, most importantly I can sing in the car again! I have reduced my therapies to a minimum as needed mostly now focusing on my neck, shoulder and releasing the scar tissue build-up. I love my team and am forever indebted to their healing energy. I will continue to believe in the full healing of my body and that my life will resume normalcy soon enough and plan to do a sprint triathlon in the Fall for my birthday. A girl’s gotta have goals!
Life is (still) SO good.
Thank you for continuing to walk this path with me. Thank you for your support, love, empathy, and patience every step of the way.
I am grateful each moment I wake; to be alive and to watch my 3 favorite boys live their life to the fullest.
So many times I have been told (recently) how much more I will appreciate life now because of that thing I was diagnosed with last summer (I don’t like giving my power to that word) but let me tell you-I already appreciated life.
I already appreciated the little things.
I already woke up every single day grateful for another to be alive and for my family to be living.
I already knew the fragility of each moment and how life can change instantly.
I already treasured my family and these two precious boys and my husband that I love so much.
I didn’t need a scary thing to happen (again) to remind me.
I don’t remember much from before our time with Ruthie (I think grief has a way of taking your memory) but I’ll tell you every single day for the last 7 years I have lived my life gratefully.
So hopefully the universe gets the message that I don’t need any more “lessons”. I got it already!
I love my little family and am SO grateful for them...and am always aware that there is a little girl missing from our family picture who I miss more than words-even when I don’t say it aloud.
I can feel myself taking the small steps to regain independence and it feels so good. Exhausting, but good. I celebrate all the small victories and am grateful every day to wake up, live in this lifetime, and for the opportunity to heal. Even though my energy and stamina last only about one hour every day, those thoughts of gratitude are constantly on the forefront of my mind.
I am entering the next stage of healing which is active recovery. And let me tell you, I say ACTIVE because it is!! Every day I attend 1-2 appts to actively support the recovery from surgery, chemo and radiation. It’s so crazy to think that before my diagnosis I was a healthy person. No aches or pains, just a noticeable loss of energy. But now due to the treatment that saved my life, I am learning how to do things correctly that I never even had think about such as speaking, swallowing, turning my head, lifting my arm and resting. So this is a week in the life of recovery:
Monday: Acupuncture, Physical Therapy
Tuesday: Speech/Swallow Therapy, Chiropractor
Wednesday: IVC, Mineral and Nutrient Infusion
Friday: Pain Management/Active Release Therapy
In the midst of those appointments I do make time to rest. Those are doctors orders and they’re the experts! I limit visitors because my white blood count is still very low and to engage with others steals much needed energy from my family at this point. But I make sure to take a nap, do some writing, or watch a movie/show on TV. In fact, the majority of the day is still in bed.
Although my body is healing, my brain is pretty active! Thankfully my anxiety has subsided and my thoughts are more into creating again. It feels good to be “back in my body”, so to speak. Remaining patient for my body to catch up to my mind is a true practice of slowing down and remaining present, but if it means a full recovery (which I plan on having), I’m up for the challenge! And I have all the love, support, dinners, childcare, and donations of my friends and family to thank. They have provided me and my family the time and space to dedicate to healing and we are eternally grateful. I could not do an ounce of this without knowing I had a crowd of cheerleaders behind me. And, THAT's what life is about.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.