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

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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

 

 

What the Heck?!?!

I’ve noticed in the years since I was diagnosed that this time of year (End of May and into June) there are a lot more people getting their dreaded diagnosis. Whether it is a first time or recurrence, I see a rush this time EVERY year. Can this be coincidence or am I just taking notice because this is about the time I was nailed? I don’t know, but this year it has been hitting unusually close to home and well… I’m taking it personally!

These are my friends and loved ones and loved ones of my friends! I feel like I’m going to war all over again! This time I’m wanting to get all up in cancer’s face and showing the vicious side that it gave me in my own battle!

We can’t fight the battles for others, but we can hold their hands, give them a hug and especially not walk away when it feels like the world and their body has turned on them.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Take no one for granted and especially remember live for now!

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day and remember those doing battle (whether on the battlefield or in a hospital room).

Hugs!

Beware of the Snake Oil Salesmen!

One of the aspects of the cancer experience that seriously burns my butt is the con men that come out of the woodwork with their “miracle” cures to cash in on your misfortune. These nut cases actually believe the nonsense they spew and offer hope for something simple to make everything “right” again.

It blows me away how some talk as if cancer is one disease… The “butt wipes” are so ignorant that they are a menace and danger to others! I didn’t like radiation any better than anyone else, but there was proof that it worked and that has strength, at least for me. No one knows what causes my cancer, so how the heck will they know that some crazy diet will make everything better?

Sadly, there are many that are grasping for hope and getting taken advantage of by these fools and you need to beware of the so called “miracles.”

Just don’t throw away what has the best chance of working for something that has no proven results, just because someone is making promises. This is cancer and as much as we want promises, there are no guarantees. The best of doctors won’t make those sort of promises and no one should. If someone does, walk away. They are likely after your money and don’t care about your health.

My thinking is that bad things do happen to good people and we can spend all of our time wondering what we could change or do to get through it easier or we can dive into the battle. Life is about balance. Eat better, exercise and do what it takes to get better…

For me, a little ice cream made the battle easier… But it didn’t cure me (insanity did that).

Have a wonderful week and be better…

Chiari Warrior

I want to share an inspiring post that touched me quite deeply…

Chiari Warrior.

Surviving Cancer and the Holidays

When dealing with a cancer diagnosis, life is hard enough, but toss in the holidays and the stress that comes along for the ride it can seem insurmountable. You need to face that your energy needs to be focused on getting well and those around you need to be equally aware. A challenge, yes, but doable.

I was dealing with surgery complications, a second surgery (actually third) and three different infections, but somehow found a way to do the shopping and give the kids a great Christmas. I looked like “heck” and couldn’t leave the house most of December, but thanks to the internet pulled it off.

There are things that you can do to make life easier….

1)      Get help! Don’t be a martyr. You shouldn’t go it alone. I never asked for help, when I should have and it made things harder than it ever needed to be. Whether we want to believe it or not, there’s usually someone willing to step in.

2)      Fall in love with your computer. You don’t need to be out on Black Friday to get deals. There’s always wonderful bargains online. ALWAYS!

3)      Learn to say “No.” You have cancer, you have a reason to say no, without guilt. This became the time I cleared my list of commitments and NEVER allowed it to get that full, again.

4)      It doesn’t have to be perfect… Your family wants you well and knows that is what matters most. It doesn’t take the perfect dinner, party or baking dozens of cookies to make the holidays special; it takes being together and making that time matter.

So slow down, have a cookie, hug a child or whatever it takes to get through the day and remember that the holidays don’t have to be complicated or cluttered to be memorable. Simple is most often best.

Enjoy the moment and remember that you have an important job to do this holiday season, beat cancer.

Nothing else matters that much.

Hugs!

 

Filtering the Information

When you’re first diagnosed with cancer you want answers… You want hope. So you jump online and start searching for information on your diagnosis, but instead of finding hope, you find every worst case scenario out there. I remember actually about passing out from looking up pictures of the surgery, I was about to face. Was white as a sheet and wouldn’t have dared trying to stand up.

The internet is a great thing, but it’s also your worst enemy, at times. You seek out support, but you may also be finding people that are dealing with advanced stages of the disease and that can be hard when you’re newly diagnosed and uncertain about what to expect.

One thing you need to remember is that a lot of people that get through the tunnel and survive it well, don’t always stay active in support groups (which is unfortunate). They try to move away from everything to do with cancer, they want to forget.

This isn’t necessary bad, but for those that are seeking positive stories, it makes it hard. The people most likely to give you hope, have moved on. So when you are seeking answers, you often are hearing some of the worst stories possible and in turn being scared to death. I found this, so I try to be available for newly diagnosed individuals whenever possible.

The challenge this creates is knowing what to tune in and what to tune out. It’s impossible to turn out everything, but you need to keep a level head (which is hard enough in the beginning). As great as support groups are, they often have a lot of individuals that feel it their responsibility to “warn” others about EVERY worst possible outcome and I can tell you from personal experience, that doesn’t help when you’re first diagnosed.

When we’re first diagnosed we need to know that the battle can be won, that though it will be a challenge, it is doable. Worst case scenarios are easy to find, we need hope. So choose your quest for knowledge carefully. Know that being positive is important and finding a great team includes finding people that have gone through the battle and won. We are out there and we want to help.

That being said, I’m always willing to help survivors see the brighter side of the battle and the light at the end of the tunnel.

Have a great week!

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”  ~Christopher Reeve

Sometimes Cussing is Acceptable…

Now, I’ll be the first to say that swearing is often (most of the time) a poor use of the English language and to be discouraged. That being said, when you’re diagnosed with cancer, the heck with the rules! Even I dropped the mother of all words after meeting with my radiation oncologist (he was a major jerk, with the bedside manner of a wart).

Sometimes you just have to vent and with cancer, there’s A LOT of venting. So, if you find yourself swearing a little more than normal with a cancer diagnosis, understand that it’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself; you aren’t alone in the fact.

Hugs and have a great week…

 

“Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle.”  ~Bill Phillips

Dealing with Bad News

The past couple weeks have been tough for me to get my mind around… I lost a childhood friend to cancer and it was the anniversary of the death of another friend, from cancer. Even when you know that it’s coming and the person has suffered so long, it’s still hard when they pass. It wakes your concerns and reminds you of everyone you’ve lost.

What it has reminded me of is how some survivors have a spirit of fight and sparkle right to the end believing that they have a chance at winning the battle, even when doctors and odds say differently. It’s nothing short of amazing. It’s this spirit that creates survivors that beat the odds.

With this it equally amazes me how some give up instantly and decide to seal their own fate… I’ll never “get” this. Even though I was completely “psycho” during my time with cancer, I couldn’t give up, it’s not in me. Life is too important to give up the ship without one hell of a fight (sorry if this offends, but cancer isn’t for the faint at heart). It’s a war with sometimes, many battles and rarely is it ever easy, but it’s worth the fight.

I’ve come to know some amazing individuals that have taken bad news and beat the odds, living wonderfully with cancer or ending up in complete remission. I recommend, whatever your diagnosis, NEVER give up… Life is ALWAYS worth it.

Have a great week and fight on!

 

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
~Author Unknown

 

Crazy Things People Say…

When someone we know and or love is diagnosed with cancer, we often feel like we’ve got to find the right words to make the situation better and very often…  It can make the situation worse.

When I was diagnosed I heard some of the craziest things I’ve EVER heard anyone say.

Here are the top five things that were said to me, but shouldn’t have been:

  1. “Is that your REAL hair???” (I kid you not! No chemo, rads only on knee and someone actually asked this one)
  2. “Are you going to lose your leg???” (I don’t care how curious you are or how much you care, NEVER ask such an insane and ignorant question! If your friend/loved one want to tell you, they will. Don’t ask)
  3. “What kind of tattoos are those???” (Speaking of the Sharpie target marks for my radiation… Duh!)
  4. “Let me know if you need anything…” (Not going to happen, if you want to do something, just do it because we WON’T ask)
  5. This last one may well offend some, but for someone dealing with cancer’s injustices there’s a great deal of anger and you need to remember that fact… Number five is “I’ll pray for you.” (There’s nothing wrong with praying for someone, but it often is said very casually and when an individual is going through the anger that comes with cancer, it’s the last thing that they may want to hear)

People search for the right words when a friend or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, but the truth is that there are no words that can fix it. Often allowing the person vent, cry, talk or sit in silence is what they need. Be there, you DON’T need to SAY anything… Being there is by far the most important thing and saying nothing is better than saying the wrong thing.

Be sensitive to what your loved one is feeling; you don’t need to hurt them more by saying something crazy and foolish.

 “Foolishness always results when the tongue outraces the brain.”  ~Author Unknown