Tag Archive | cancer survivor

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

ourpaths

As a woman who endured breast cancer many moons ago, October or Pinktober becomes one of those pink, swashed in your face reminders of all that happened to us.  Maybe for you it doesn’t, but for those of us with a long history, it’s a stark reminder for an entire month.

I don’t often share that I endured breast cancer because my medical past isn’t obvious.  Well, maybe it’s obvious in certain situations, but for the most part, you’d never know if you met me on the street or in the grocery store unless I shared that bit of information with you.  I’m grateful for that now.  The bald tell-tale sign or the hairless eyebrows and lack of eyelashes aren’t there anymore.

It’s been a long time since I was diagnosed and I’m grateful to still be here to help others who walk this path.  If you want to read more, just type breast cancer in the search button on my blog and you will see that I’ve written about it over the years.  I learned much from my experience with breast cancer that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t had the disease.  Endurance, strength, compassion, kindness, faith and connections have helped to enrich my life and my will to survive other obstacles that have arrived at my doorstep.  While I would have never chosen to endure this disease, I am grateful for surviving it and for the ample opportunities for insight and growth that came from it.

While it hasn’t come back with a vengeance, the threat continues as I live out the rest of my life.  However, most of the time it is pushed to the back of my mind where it belongs.  I am vigilant in my checkups and as any cancer survivor knows, I spend a few nervous days after they test my blood, waiting to see if my tumor markers have decided to go wacky and scare me.  In the past they have, which brought fear to the forefront again in my life, but luckily for me, they were false positives.

I can’t say that same experience happened for many friends and acquaintances of mine.  Sadly, many of them lost their battle to the disease as it metastasized to different areas in the body.  Survivors guilt after bonding with others saddens me.  The question of why I am spared and they are not, continues to be a mystery.  In honoring their sweet memories, I try to live the best life I can, for I know how quickly life can change.

I am an alumni of a club to which I never wished to belong.  But in this club, I have found warm, loving people who are united in ways that others may never fully understand.  To this day, I still help other women who are enduring breast cancer.  I know that for me, it helped when someone else understood the night time terror thoughts or the twinges of pain that we knew weren’t normal.  It helped to receive a sisterly embrace from someone who ‘got it’ and who willingly connected with me.  So I give back when I can.  I pass along the compassionate connections which were offered to me and greatly appreciated.

In honor of those who lost their battle to breast cancer, to those who are currently in the throes of cancer’s siege on their body and to those who, like me, are labeled survivors, I send up my prayers today.  My prayer is that we live on in the hearts of our loved ones and that someday, sooner rather than later, the cure will be given to all who need it.

God Bless.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

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I Won’t Back Down – A Survivor’s Song

tompetty

A few years ago, I wrote this post about my friend Jenn with whom I endured chemotherapy when we both had breast cancer.  Jenn lost her battle with the disease as you can read here.

October always reminds me of her smile and fighting spirit.  Her anthem was Tom Petty’s song, I Won’t Back Down, so I thought it was fitting on so many levels to pay a tribute to her during Breast Cancer Awareness month and to Tom Petty who passed away yesterday and even to those who lost their lives at the concert in Las Vegas.

I’m crying this morning for so many reasons.  I’ve been listening to Tom Petty’s song for Jenn and for everyone else.  The grief is real on so many levels for me.

Hold your loved ones close today.  Love with your whole heart everyday.  Be strong and stand up to evil.  Show kindness to all with whom you meet.  You never know what type of battle we are silently enduring.  Keep your heartlight lit for all to see.  You are a vital part of this world.

Shine On!

xo

It’s Just The Circle Of Life

itsjustthecircleoflife

I don’t mean any disrespect when I write – It’s just the circle of life.  It’s more of a factual statement than one which diminishes the emotion of birth to death.  As humans, we have experienced our own birth and someday we will experience our own death.  We may even experience by proxy, the death of friends, family and loved ones.  As women, we may even experience the gift of giving birth.

As a breast cancer survivor, I have experienced the thought of death as well.  Perhaps it’s not just those of us with illnesses that know the darkness that shrouds the fear at death’s door.  But it becomes a rite of passage when we are diagnosed with a disease which is a known killer.  It’s how we deal with that threat that the disease can take our lives which varies, person to person.

There’s no right way to deal with a breast cancer diagnosis and each of us who have heard those words, ‘you have cancer’ can attest to the fact that our lives completely change in a moment.  Forevermore we live with the threat that it won’t be cured or that it will return with a vengeance.  We fear the cancer, the treatment and the cloud that perpetually hangs back, in our peripheral view for the rest of our lives.  We mourn the loss of good health that we once had.  We crumble in the dark late at night fearing the worst, yet hoping for the best, making promises to the Universe or to God with pleas for strength, for one more day, for a cure, for peace.

We endure pain in order to be cured, yet the psyche many times does not ever find peace again to heal our spiritual self.  I have seen people who have become broken shells of their former selves after a diagnosis, never to fully regain the momentum of life afterwards for the fear of the cancer returning never leaves us.  Even if we put it in the back of our minds or try to totally erase it from our view, its specter awaits, lurking for the next lump’s arrival, the next battery of tests that are not within normal range, the next procedure to investigate some abnormality in the body.  It doesn’t really ever end.

I am coming up on 16 years since I was diagnosed and I can attest that it never ends.  Sure, we can go on merrily with our lives, hoping our happy-go-lucky charade continues to not provoke questions from others as to our health status.  We can cry at night when things aren’t good, but nobody understands this unless you have endured it.  We can be strong when needed and mask our fears to the masses.  After awhile, we even believe ourselves until something happens to knock us off-kilter and wham, we are back again in the throes of fear and wondering if the circle of life is at its end.

I understand dear friends.  I truly do.  Even the word remission is not a peaceful feeling as it only masks the tingling sensation of peace for the moment and the trembling fear of if/when the other shoe will drop again.

I don’t know why I am writing this post today.  It seems to be flowing out of me at a supersonic speed.  My fingers type so quickly and yet I am not sure if I am even making sense.  I’ve had many scares over the years.  Tumor markers which are higher than normal, lumps that have to be biopsied, scary tests to endure all while knowing that could be in store.  Crying in the night or during the day when nobody’s home.  Feeling the whoosh of relief when the doctor proclaims it’s ok for now.  Reliving the nightmares of past experiences knowing I’m on my own.  It’s hard, but we can live through the experience and keep going.  That’s the common denominator really.  Keep waking up to a new day.  Nightfall is hardest I know – that dead of night overwhelming feeling which is only diminished by sleep.  And the realization as dawn comes that we must face the reality in our situation.  I’m here for you.  I have been there and I feel blessed that I am still here to walk with you when you need a friend.

The circle of life begins and ends in a momentous way – birth and death – bringing the light of our souls into the world and then allowing the extinguishing of our soul light to be free.

Shine On!

xo

P.S.  I’m fine, so no worries.  I don’t know why this post wrote itself today, but it did. xo

 

via Daily Prompt: Circle

Cancer Changed Me

cancerchangedme

Hope ~ Strength ~ Power ~ Belief ~ Courage ~ Honor ~ Determination

I have been told that cancer changed me.  Indeed, it wasn’t said it in the nicest of ways.  In fact, it was taken as a disparaging comment and I was appalled by the off-hand comment.  My first reaction was to defend myself at the time, to show how cancer didn’t change me.  But I left well-enough alone and decided to say nothing.  However, I was hurt by the retort.

Had cancer really changed me?

The question mulled in my head for days and many sleepless nights, more than I’d like to admit, but it’s true.  I’ve written how cancer changes you enough times in this blog to know that the reality is – YES, cancer changes most of us.  It has to, or we wouldn’t still be here.  For we have seen into the yawning mouth of our own demise, endured the most feared emotions and have come out of it alive, so far.  Looking at your own potential death does change you.

It makes you more aware for the most part.  Some of us now see with finite definition that life is short and there are no guarantees how much time we have on this earth.  We become grateful for the beauty in nature, for the simple pleasures that kindness brings and for a real, loving hug which can cure many ills.  We look to connect with others more because we know what it’s like to feel alone.  We share our stories, encourage each other and find the courage to be who we authentically are!  We smile when we are tired.  We work hard to overcome obstacles and to be there for others, even when we feel depleted.  We take that extra moment to smile and to enjoy goodness when it comes into our lives.  We are grateful for the support that we have been given and we look to support others to continue the flow of goodness.  We share tips to help others and happily receive tips to make our lives easier.

We know that all the money in the world, with all the frivolities are fleeting and really don’t mean a damn when death comes knocking at our door.  It’s that silence between ourselves and our maker (or our beliefs) in the quiet of the night that counts.  It’s regarding peace within as a precious gift, time spent with loved ones and a centered calm in which to retreat when life becomes hard.  It’s the voice within the stillness which speaks of love, gratitude, peace with ourselves and others and God.

Yes, cancer changed me.  That’s for sure.  Perhaps it was the misunderstanding of me that caused this person to spout the ‘dig’ as I took it.  Sometimes it takes a loss for us to be humble and perhaps there will be people who simply never understand.  And that’s ok with me.

I am me, authentically me.  I make mistakes, I ask for forgiveness and I forgive.  I choose to live in a state of peace within when I can, but I am always evolving, ever growing and yet, trying to do all things with love.  I intend to do my best, at any given moment, but I’m human.  I’m a work in progress.  Aren’t we all?

What’s precious to me in my life is love, kindness and connections and I strive every day to live with those three precious gems in my life.  Cancer made me a better person by giving me so many lessons in my life.  I’ve learned so much from cancer, even though I never wanted to endure that disease.  Looking back on my life, I realize that I am who I am today because of cancer.  Even if others don’t understand me, it’s ok now.  I’m at peace and I’m ever grateful for the peace within me.

Shine On!

xo

National Cancer Survivor’s Day

dahlia1

National Cancer Survivor’s Day

Today is National Cancer Survivor’s Day ~ the first Sunday in the month of June according to Google.  So I found it appropriate to write today as I am also a cancer survivor ~ breast cancer in particular.

I want to honor those who have endured cancer, those who have passed already, those who are enduring the ‘Big C” and those who may be diagnosed in the future.  Most of us have had cancer rear its ugly head in our lives directly or in the lives of loved ones and we have been touched by its tentacles in one way or another.

Cancer as with most illnesses changes the lives of not only the patient, but the friends and the families that it touches.  It changes us all in ways we could never predict.  Cancer can strengthen the bonds of love or it can destroy them.  It can strengthen your soul or it can weaken it.  Cancer doesn’t play fair and it’s up to you in how you allow it to change your life and the lives of your loved ones.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank my family, my friends, my loved ones, my doctors and nurses and all whom have touched my life during my cancer journey.  I am ever grateful that I have been loved throughout this journey of endurance and I know that each and every person played a special part in my surviving.  I also am grateful to God for the prayers answered for my highest good, even when I didn’t believe that what was happening was actually a gift.

Cancer changes our lives.  It enriches them in ways we could never imagine and it also can take away in the same breath.  It’s up to you, the survivor, how you view your cancer situation.  Personally I have been all over the map of emotions with my own cancer journey.  I’ve worried.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve been hurt.  I’ve lived in fear.  I’ve lived in peace.  But the one constant has been the love and friendship that I’ve felt during the trials and tribulations.

Love is the answer my friends.  Love is your legacy.  Compassion is key.  Looking outside yourself and into the hearts of others with loving gratitude is required.  So on this special day, I want to honor all of you who have been touched by cancer in every way.  We are all survivors whether we are the patient, the family member or the friend.  We all play a part in the experience and I am truly grateful to each and every person in my life who has been there for me.  I treasure the role each of you played in my life and I love you all.

Shine On!

xo

Bent, But Not Broken

6248749_Lately, my Mom says, “Oh Lord, help me” a lot.  Every time she says it, I want to answer ~ “and help us too!”  Sometimes I even say it aloud or I tell her that we’d be millionaires if we received a dime for each time she said it lately!  Giggle Giggle.  That’s truly how much she says it.

I’ve heard all the quotes about ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle’ etc.  You know the ones that people offer when you’re dealing with way too much on your plate that’s sometimes not even yours to handle, but you are handling it?  I used to think it was a cop out quite honestly.  I mean really?  If I listed all that I’m dealing with right now you would think I was telling a story (lie), but I’m not.  It’s all quite honest and real and heavy stuff.  It seems like every day there is more piled on my plate and I’m not quite sure how I got so ‘lucky’ perhaps God thinks I’m made of cement because I’m sure growing stronger every day and not because I want to…but because I have no other choice.

I bend…but I won’t break.

As a cancer survivor, you learn all about having to take care of yourself.  There’s nobody else in the middle of the night who is listening to the thoughts that barrage our minds, hearts, souls and bodies.  You have to learn to make peace with all the chaos that you’re going through and when you think you’re going through hell, you’ve just got to keep taking baby steps.  And that’s where I am again ~ taking baby steps ~ through all the stuff that has fallen on my shoulders (and my Sissy’s).  Together we are bending and we each take turns in being the stronger one at that moment when the other person holds up her hand with the white flag and needs a break.  That’s the beauty of sisterly love and experiencing a bonding with your sister through traumatic family experiences.  You don’t even have to ask, you just know she needs a break and you take over for awhile until she’s rested and vice versa.  That’s just the way it is.

But as for bending until I break ~ well, that’s for another day I guess.  Right now I’m just hanging in there ~ hanging by a thread ~ holding onto that knot that I tied at the end of my rope.  I’m trying with all of my might to keep going through thick and thin and to not give up.  And I won’t.  But I’d like a bit of a rest please Lord.  Could you please just take over for awhile and take some of this heavy burden off my shoulders?  I’m a good person.  I can understand that there’s nobody else to help and we are willing to help, but golly, could you please not add more worry to my life everyday?  I need a good night’s sleep.  I keep handing off my worries to you, but the next day, I get more bad news.  I’m trying to stay calm, but I’m a work in progress.  I don’t want to give up, but I’m suffering here.  I’m feeling broken.

I bend, but I don’t break…at least not yet.

Shine On!

xo

 

I mean it, never again!

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I’m never doing that again!  Bring it on!  I won’t endure chemo again!

I remember saying the above to my MIL (Mother-in-Law) one day after returning home from another brutal ACT chemo treatment.  Bald, nauseous, tired and achy, I told her and anyone else who dared to listen to me that day that I was only doing this once (meaning the chemo regime) and God/Doctors/Cancer better bring it on because I wouldn’t be doing this again.  I would give my whole heart/soul/strength into fighting and enduring the chemo now, but that I was never doing it again because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!

Years later, my MIL has recounted this story to me saying that in her head, she clearly remembers thinking, “Oh yes you will if you have to ~ I’ll make sure of it.”

It’s funny that I’ve been writing so much about breast cancer these days.  I don’t mean to be giving you a barrage of Pink Posts, but I guess it’s on my mind and these Daily Prompts just make it so easy to explain how I felt.  I think that with illness or tragedy, we just numbly go through the paces in order to try to reach the other side of the dark tunnel.    We soldier on as it is, baby step by baby step until we feel like we can’t do any more and that’s when the “I’m never doing this again,” foot stomping, tear-induced demands, written in stone in our minds are said.  We will endure this now, but we aren’t doing it again.  At least that’s how it was for me.

And I’ve been blessed (Oh my, did I just say BLESSED?  Yup, and I meant it!) to not have had to endure chemo again, although I’ve been dragged through a multitude of surgeries and complications since 2002 when I had my 6 months of chemotherapy.

So I guess for the point of the Daily Prompt, chemotherapy and all the accoutrements that envelope the protocol that specialists prescribe fits today’s ‘tried a new experience and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!”  Don’t you think so?

Be Healthy ~ Be happy

Enjoy the Presents of Presence!

Shine On!

xo

Daily Prompt: Never Again

Have you ever gone to a new place or tried a new experience and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!” Tell us about it.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/daily-prompt-never-2/