That Scattered Feeling

lighthouseIt’s been close to thirteen years since my diagnosis and as a whole, I think that I’ve done
pretty well…

Three surgeries…. Done, done, and done!

Radiation… Thirty-five and a lovely glow!

Infections… Staph, strep, and one that I never remembered the name, treated and done!

Depression… Treated and done with!

Scars… Went from devastated to entering contests for best scar and story!

Focus issues… Well, there are great days and then… I just love vanilla ice cream.

I can’t blame chemo brain because I didn’t have it, but I’ve been told that any long term crisis can create issues with concentration and focus. Before cancer, I never had issues with attention, but now I struggle to finish a book (And considering I read four to five at one time, it’s a miracle any are finished) or complete some projects. Organization is also a significant issue and I’m hoping that downsizing and decluttering my life will make a difference.

From what I’m reading this is all normal or our new “normal” and we just need to adapt.
For me, it’s become a struggle to keep track of important documents and this can often be disastrous. I’ve lost important papers that ended up costing outrageous late fees or worse. Everyday I struggle with this.

Downsizing and decluttering has become my hope to making it easier. I find that if I’m dealing with clutter and too much going on, I practically shut down and accomplish nothing. I’ll distract myself with the computer and basically do nothing, but veg out. Which is NEVER a good thing.

So, I have found that there are measures we can take to assist us staying on track and I’m going to share them with you.

  1. Try to eliminate as much paper and clutter, as humanly possible. I love recipes, but now only print when I KNOW that I’m going to make it within a couple of days. If not and I truly want to keep the recipe, I find a way to save it to a document and save it on the computer (make sure that you periodically purge these files, as to not waste computer memory).
  2. Start making a concerted effort to finish books and smaller tasks (one thing at a time!). This is one area I’ve been seriously pushing myself to small victories. It feels good when I complete one area and not juggling fifteen others.
  3. File, file, FILE! Don’t just lay it down, give it a home! Whether it be the filing cabinet or the trash, deal with it!
  4. Turn the computer off (This is my weakness and my greatest struggle). Walking away from the computer is a gift to yourself and allows you time to focus on the world around you.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ve been through a lot and it takes time to get your footing with this new life. You may always have an issue with feeling scattered, but you can live with that and it will be fine.

We will get through this and feeling a bit scattered is a small thing in the scheme of life… We may never get rid of the feeling completely, but we can try to control the areas that add to the stresses we live with.

I’m a long way from being on top of it, but I’m moving in that direction. It’s taken thirteen years to grasp that what I’ve been doing isn’t working and that changes have to be made to make my life easier to deal with. I’ve been trying to juggle multiple blogs instead of choosing one and making it wonderful and all have suffered, but now I’m going to focus on this one and my passion for survivors. I’m going to focus on you and hopefully, something wonderful is about to happen. I’ll admit my failings and share my insanity, so you’ll see that we’ll all be just fine in the end.

I hope this has offered a little assistance or comfort in your life…

Have a wonderful week ahead.

How to Keep the Christmas Spirit When Surrounded By Humbugs!

10830194_10205365862971082_7081847154313349889_oAnyone that knows me well knows that I’ve adored Christmas my entire life, even when it’s been difficult. I’ve had a Christmas tree in my bedroom since I was ten or younger and decorated multiple trees, any given year. When I was a teenager, I was often called “The Christmas Kid” and I prided myself on such things. If I couldn’t afford gifts, I’d make something or even just send a card… Just so my friends knew that I cared. That’s what matters, anyhow.

It’s always been that way, so I struggle when people say they don’t want to celebrate due to financial or other difficulties. I made it happen, even while going through cancer treatment and being pretty broke, so I don’t particularly buy into the excuses… It’s NOT about money or gifts and if you are thinking that way, you’ve missed the boat.

This year has been an unusually difficult one, but I haven’t allowed it to damper my mood… Even with people making it challenging, I’m still not losing my spirit! I refuse to allow it to happen and neither should you.

I think part of what makes this all possible is that I believe in Santa. How can I STILL believe in Santa, you ask? Well, it’s really quite simple… Believing in Santa is a state of mind and feeling sort of thing. Santa lives within us, as we share love and joy during the season (or the whole year). There’s magic in that and all that comes along for the ride.

I believe most of the problems with the world would be solved, if more people felt this way. At the very least, there’d be A LOT more kindness in the world, if more took this stance (and likely a great deal less road rage).

My challenge to you is to stop telling yourself that Christmas is for the kids because that’s simply not true. Christmas is for everyone. It’s not about gifts. It’s not about what you give, not receive and I’m once again, not talking about gifts, but the time and kindness you share. Get out there and start sharing kindness.

Also, just because you might be in treatment or having challenges, understand that if you allow yourself… You CAN feel the magic. I promise.

Be safe, be blessed and know that I appreciate all of you.

Angels We Have Heard On High – Pentatonix

Cancer!… What the Hell?!?!

I know that I haven’t written in a very long time, but basically I’ve been on a downhill spiral for close to six years. No excuses, it just happened. I’ve lost several survivor friends and there’s been a boatload of survivors guilt and I’ve been dealing with it 904413_10202563425711902_208710822_oin my own way which isn’t something that I’d recommend, but it tends to be how I deal with things in general.

Now, I’m trying to get used to this version of me and finding that being “real” is something that I feel passionate about… I just had to figure out who the real “me” was. Now that I have… You’re in for a ride!

So allow me to introduce myself… I’m a twelve year survivor of liposarcoma (yeah, I wondered what the heck that was, too). Diagnosed with a six inch by four inch mass all behind and beside my right knee right after I became a runner (which can ruin a runner’s day under the best of circumstances). I went through three surgeries, six weeks of radiation, enough infections for three people, and three months of physical therapy to learn to stop walking like a duck and become a runner once again.

It’s no joke when they say that life post cancer is sometimes harder than going through treatment. For the first year post treatment, I silently suffered from major depression and was nearly at a breaking point when I finally gave in and sought treatment. I had fought anti-depressants for far too long and it was a godsend. I gave me the chance to laugh for the first time in over a year and that was a miracle, so please, if you’re going through treatment, don’t fight getting help with depression… Don’t be a martyr, it’s not worth it. Treatment is difficult enough; don’t allow it to be harder than it needs to be.

I no longer suffer with depression, but have tried to avoid cancer a bit for a while because I’ve seen far too many snake oil salesmen out there and naïve survivors grasping for things that are putting their lives at greater risk and it’s angered me to the point of walking away. It was a mistake.

I’m back! Not only that, but I’m going to take a stand for those that are fighting the battle and go back to living for the hope that  REAL treatment can offer. I’m not saying that natural therapies help alongside traditional treatments, but these people selling this story that if you eat the “right” foods, live the ”right” way, believe the “right” things and drink those ghastly damn green grass drinks you won’t get cancer are seriously getting under my skin! Eating right, exercise, and taking care of yourself can help, but don’t kid yourself, cancer can strike ANYONE. Is it fair? Hell, no, but it can happen.

For those of us that were doing the “right” things when we were diagnosed, we get a little angry when we hear these stories. I lost a dear friend that was a vegetarian and a runner to lung cancer, when she NEVER smoked a day in her life and wasn’t around second hand smoke. She was destroyed, when she was diagnosed and when she heard this kind of talk, it only made it harder.

I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed with liposarcoma (a rare fatty cancer) and someone even when so far as to suggest that it was the sin in my life (nearly got violent over that one). People that have never dealt with cancer need to start thinking before speaking because you can about destroy an individual fighting the battle of their life with your thoughtless words.

It doesn’t matter if they haven’t lived the best life, DON’T play the blame game! We know what we’re dealing with FAR more than you do, so just stop!

You don’t need to say anything, just be there. I lost just about EVERY friend I had when I was diagnosed and though it hurt like hell at the time, I quickly learned what mattered and who mattered. Be who matters to the survivors in your life… Be there.

If you’re a newly diagnosed individual or even someone like me that is long past treatment, feel free to contact me through this site. I want to help other survivors get through the chaos. I want you to know that you can get through this and even if the prognosis isn’t good, you have a friend.

Welcome to my site… I’m going to share how to we, as survivors can rock the world and make a HUGE impact.

And the picture really has nothing to do with this piece, but I hope it makes you smile… My very own flying monkey (every girl should have one!).

Hugs,

Angie

How Do You Do it???

Sorry for not being around for the past three months… I started a new job in an old field and had to relearn the skill during my probationary period. I’m a dental assistant and was a “tad” rusty, to put it mildly.

Now, I’m back, but this has all made me so aware of something… I’m blown away by how many of you survivors are working through your treatment! I couldn’t have done it! I was a complete mental case and would likely have lost my job. I couldn’t concentrate, was crying all the time and truly was a danger to myself and others (slight exaggeration, but only a VERY slight one).

How do you do it? I’ve met several of you that have worked through chemo and other aspects of treatment and hold you in the highest of esteem, because I honestly am at a loss to how you made it through (or are currently going through it).

Because I’m sure others would like to know how you “get through” treatment and work, I’m writing a new post on how some survivors do this and would love your input. Please feel free to post how you work or worked through treatment and what helped you through.

Talk to me, friends… Let’s help each other get through this beast we know as cancer.

Check out this great video from Megan Kowalewski and some of her others, as well… She’s an inspiration.

Brief Hiatus…

Sorry for not writing, but am taking a short hiatus.

Am changing jobs and will have so much more time to get you some great posts up soon! 

See you in October! 

Chronicling the Journey…

016I started journaling in high school and have done it most of my life, as I’ve read that most “successful” people do and we all want to emulate our heroes. Many of our founding fathers did this and that was good enough to convince me.

Maybe you’ve thought about it, maybe not, but journaling your way through treatment and beyond is good for the soul. You need to express your feelings, even when you don’t want to share it with others. We need that release!

Not only will it allow you to express some of what you’re dealing with now, but it will give you something to look back at in the future. Right now, life seems daunting and the future is difficult to see, but a day will likely come that you want to look back. I have an entire file box dedicated to my cancer adventure (Even have my certificate for completing radiation!).

Again, right now you may just be in “survival” mode, but there’s generally a point where you want to look back. For me, cancer was the beginning of my life… Not pleasant, but because of it, my life became something “more” and worth living.

Life it to be lived and chronicled… What you experience may very well also help someone else and that makes it even more important. Don’t hold back, grab your journal and let it go!

Heck, have some fun… Buy a composition book, some pretty papers and create your own. There’s no limits, just let go.

Have a wonderful week and get writing (or you can even find apps for that!)!

Living Vibrantly

Neon VibeTraining is getting back on track this week and can’t wait! Heel injury has been discouraging and hated having to stay away from the treadmill, but this week I’m getting back at it. I’m less than three weeks from the Dayton Neon Vibe and I’m afraid to think of how close the Pretty Muddy is getting, so it’s time to get down to business in a BIG way.

With the damage done by cancer, I NEED to keep my knee moving! If I take time off or even sit for too long, I get stiff. There’s nothing quite like standing up and walking like a 90 year old when you’re only 47, but that’s how I start in the morning. Once I’m up and moving, I’m great and can kick some serious butt, but those first few steps are always a challenge. If this is the worst cancer has dished out to me, I’m GREAT! So you can imagine how hard it’s been to be inactive for a couple weeks…

Tonight will be my first two mile night, so I figure I’m starting slow. I want to be back to three miles regularly by the Vibe, so will be pushing just a tad… BUT for this party, I WILL ROCK! I came this far for a reason and I’m not going to stop now!

So, what is the Neon Vibe??? It’s a dance party. It’s a 5k! It’s VIBRANT! We’ll be living in full color that night, dancing, running and just having a fantastic time for a great cause… Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals! It’s a Win/Win, no matter how you look at it!

Check out the site to get a feel for what the night will be like… The Neon Vibe

I’m all about color and living to the fullest… Let’s live vibrantly!

You’ll see just how vibrant I can be in the weeks ahead. 

Perceptions…

Hot Air Balloon 0734Before cancer we tend to be naive about life and death… We know, logically that everyone dies, but we often never seriously think it’s going to happen anytime soon. We know we’re not immortal, but we don’t want someone to tell us that it could happen and it could happen sooner than we want.

That was my life until my family doctor had to burst my bubble…

From there I went straight into “rabid dog in corner” mode and it was UGLY! Anger was my friend and fear added to that created a blind rage that carried me through most of my treatment. It’s not generally recommended, but it was all I had.

I read books on finding hope and the Bible, as well, but found no solace in either. I was beyond reason, just wanted a way out, and didn’t care how I found my way out.

During the early days of cancer, fear consumes us and we want relief that seems to be nowhere. I don’t know about you, but I wanted concrete answers and guarantees… Which no one will give you. It was a vicious circle and this can often be the case.

If you’re newly diagnosed, you often are looking for guarantees and hope, which no one can give you (even for those without cancer). Once you’re in battle, you need to focus on that and try not to allow setbacks destroy you.

I’ve also noticed that those fighting a recurrence have a different mindset… More of the seasoned veteran going back into battle and this is overwhelmingly inspiring to someone like me. I’ve watched friends with this “kick butt” attitude live a vibrant life with cancer.  These individuals can be amazing and encouraging to the new fighters.

There’s also those post treatment that are still trying to gain their footing in life after the battle. Living with the fears of it coming back and adjusting to the fact that their life isn’t what it used to be and will NEVER be what is used to be (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Long term survivors should reach out and guide these individuals, as it’s (in my humble opinion) the most difficult part of the cancer treatment process because you feel like you’ve been just thrown out there on your own.

The long term survivor (which is a group that I’m always grateful to be a part of) comes to realize that life, though different, can be more vibrant and beautiful than it ever was before cancer. This person often feels that they have a responsibility to reach out and help those in the other stages of the battle. That is where I am.

I find no more joy than helping other survivors maneuver the race and sharing the “spark” that gives hope to others.

This is my perception and I hope that it helps and inspires…

Thank you for visiting and being a part of my world.

 

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”  ~Ivy Baker Priest

 

 

Training Tuesdays

Welcome to Training Tuesdays… What the heck is “Training Tuesdays” you ask and what does it have to do with cancer??? Well, I’m going to tell you… During treatment and even during any time of stress, exercise can keep you going and at your best. Training and just walking carried me through my treatments and helped with fatigue in a major way.

I dealt with radiation, the fatigue that came with it and found that even 20 minutes a day helped with my energy levels. It also serves as a mood enhancer, so helps with the depression, as well.

Of course, you should ALWAYS get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise program, especially during cancer treatment.

Each week I’m going to offer advice on the benefits of exercise during cancer treatment and beyond, as well as my insane antics training for my first mud obstacle race.

Feel free to ask any specific questions you might have on exercising during cancer treatment.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

016This week was for new experiences! Have never been to a game with our local baseball team and so this was a great new adventure! Dayton has a nice little stadium in Fifth Third Field… Actually the perfect set up for a family outing. I was there as a driver for our local Senior Center. Everyone had a great time, though I don’t think the warning not to hang over the rails applied to this group.😉

The game began and the players took the field… Is it me or are athletes looking younger and younger? In a good way, of course! And maybe I’m easily entertained, but the flames on the screens were just too cool!

I have to admit that before cancer, I’d NEVER have went to a game and didn’t expect to have a great time, but truly had a fabulous time!

If you’ve never had cancer, don’t wait for a life changing event to go experience life and if you have had cancer, it’s time to live! Besides, there’s something amazing about nachos at the ball field and you don’t want to miss that!009

If you happen to be in the Dayton area… Check out a Dragons game, you won’t regret it.

“A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.”  ~Humphrey Bogart

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