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

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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

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

Grabbing that Mojo

As I’ve often pointed out, it takes a while to adjust to your post cancer self and that’s fine… Take your time. When you become what you’re meant to be, you’re going to ROCK! Learning to live life can be a bit of a unique experience and can shake those around you up, but again, that’s okay. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be “hell on wheels,” but in a good way. 😉

Try new things, stop waiting on tomorrow, and just kick everything up a notch. Try that zip lining, travel, become an artist, or whatever you feel calling you. It’s doesn’t matter too much what you do, you’re friends and family may think you’re a bit nutty. Mine are quite confident that I’ve completely lost my mind, but I’m good with that.

Think about what you’ve always wanted to try and as long as it’s not illegal or over-the-top dangerous (if it is dangerous, don’t blame me!), get out there and live it!

Make this week count and fill me in on some of your adventures. For me my next adventure is Pretty Muddy Mud Run and eventually I’m wanting to do a Zombie Run (imagine a mix of obstacle courses, running, and flag football, with just a touch of The Walking Dead.

Have fun!

“Put a grain of boldness into everything you do.”  ~Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish

 

Getting Your Bounce Back!

iStock_000011459857_ExtraSmallJust because surgery and treatments are over, doesn’t mean you’ll feel like your old self again… No matter how much you might want it. There’s going to be a new “normal” and time needed to adjust.

Now, don’t panic… The new normal isn’t necessarily a bad place to be. You may not like it at first, but be aware you are now likely headed to a better place. It takes time and sometimes a new stage of “treatment” that you likely hadn’t considered… Psychological.

When you think about it, it really is a form of PTSD. You’ve been doing battle for a long time and it takes time to leave that mindset.

I was in treatment for close to a year. From diagnosis in the beginning of June; radiation all summer; surgeries in June, September and December, and physical therapy through April; it was May before I stopped having some sort of treatment nearly every day or week and then there was nothing, no safety net or someone to hold my hand.

After treatment, you experience fear with every scan and that’s normal. Over time, with each clear scan, you get where you can handle it better. You never get where it’s completely easy, but it does get MUCH easier.

There are support groups (online and on site), as well as psychologists trained in post cancer needs. There are always places to look for people that are just like you and know exactly what you’re feeling and dealing with. You just need to look for them. I wish there were so many when I went through my treatment. I did use The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network (CSN) and it was unbelievably helpful, but truly needed more.

I struggled for close to a year on my own and was nearly at the breaking point before I gave in and sought treatment for the depression. No one wants to admit to depression and honestly, I was at the end of my rope, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was “weak.” Now, the kicker… I went from wanting to drive my van off a bridge one night, to my first belly laugh in likely two years or more and all in just twenty-four hours of starting the medicine.

It has taken me a while, but after nine years, I no longer need the meds and feel amazing! Better than I have in YEARS! I survive scans well and try to reach out to other Liposarcoma survivors, so they don’t have to go through the process alone (we are a rare breed and it’s often difficult to find the support we need).

So, to wrap this up… Don’t expect that just by being cancer free is going to make you feel “normal” again and that is fine… It’s normal, so to speak, to not feel normal. It’s all a part of the healing process.

The new “normal” can be the best part of your life, if you just give it time. Bouncing back will happen.

Hang in there and if you have questions, you can contact me through this site.

 

“Fear makes us feel our humanity.”  ~Benjamin Disraeli

Regrouping Can Be a Good Thing

I’m sorry for not writing, but the past two weeks have been a challenge to get through… Two weeks ago, I had a client from my day job; die right before my eyes and that is an experience I am in no hurry to repeat. I’d never dealt with anything like this and though I thought I was fine, but that was before the Boston bombing. Once that happened, I had enough anger for ten people and was at a loss to how to deal with it. Sleepless nights and being ready to bite someone’s head off at a moment’s notice that had everyone on edge, didn’t earn me points with anyone.

Losing a sweet client right before my eyes and having to take control of an impossible situation was difficult, but as a runner, Boston hit me right in the gut. See, I could have lost my leg and I know the fear I had at the thought… The pain of those that lost their legs was just overwhelming and broke my heart. Feeling like I should be doing something, when there’s nothing obvious was devastating and seeing so many that seemed complacent with their attitude toward the event upset me even more.

I needed to step back and away from the majority of it all, but could only do that after the last suspect was off the streets. It seemed that once that happened, I was exhausted and just needed rest. So, that is exactly what I did this weekend. I escaped into running, gardening and as little negative as possible.

Sometimes we all need to step back and regroup after challenging times… It doesn’t make us weak or unfeeling, it makes us wise. An individual can only go on adrenaline so long before we shut down and that’s the last thing anyone needs.

If the events of the past week have worn on you, don’t be hard on yourself if you just need to escape for a bit. Sometimes we just get too much information in this age of nonstop information. It’s healthy to take a moment to breathe.

Just close your eyes and breathe, so you can take on life’s new challenges with a smile.

“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”  ~Hans Christian Andersen

 

 

 

Channeling Rainbow Brite

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Fully involved in my training and preparing for the Pretty Muddy event in September and have decided to do a whole rainbow themed outfit. From the wild socks to flashy shorts and t-shirt, I should stand out well before the mud flies.

As you can likely tell, I’m a kid at heart and love color passionately… I believe that life is all about the color and we shouldn’t worry about coloring in the lines all the time. Sometimes it’s all about the living and experiencing. Too many years were spent staying within the lines and when cancer struck, I realized it was all for nothing. I had wasted most of my life, living by someone else’s standards of “good” and “grown up” and it was killing me.

It all changed over that year of treatment and in the years that have passed since it has snowballed to the point that I LOVE my way of living and thinking! My friends are real, my life is bigger and the colors are vivid! Also, I love to color and paint like a kid, again.

This is how we should all live, true to ourselves and channeling our own Rainbow Brite (or whatever you love). It shouldn’t take something like cancer to bring us to life… Live a beautiful life, run your races (Pretty Muddy is pretty awesome!), and be something more.

Joy is in the living.

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

What the “HELLO” is Normal???

D4-A003_C098_0221B5In recent weeks I’ve had conversations with other survivors about what is our new “normal” and is it even close to what we once thought normal was? There is no simple answer, but with that you have to understand there is no such thing as normal in even the best of situations. Those people we so often look up to as role models to what type of life we want are just as messed up as the next, some just tend to hide it better than others. There is no such thing as normal… Let me repeat that. There is NO SUCH THING AS NORMAL! Get over it! Accept it! Live with it and most importantly, love it.

I lost about all of my pre-cancer friends when I was diagnosed and was bitter and angry over this for a VERY long time, but I see this situation entirely differently now. I’m so glad that they’re gone and don’t even miss them. The friends I have now are gold. I don’t tend to get close to people, but that small handful that have forced their way into my heart are there to stay. It truly isn’t a numbers game, the way kids seem to want to think of it. One trusted friend is worth more than a hundred that will bail when you need them most. With a cancer survivor this is more important than with anyone else.

Don’t expect your old friends to “get it” because it’s doubtful that they will, if they do, be grateful. It’s important to get out and experience life and sometimes you have to do that on your own, but you survived cancer, you can do this. Become who you are, don’t look back and suddenly you’ll see that there are people that are going to start breaking down this wall you thought you built. People who like you are and not who you were. You aren’t that person anymore and that’s a great thing. You’re stronger and better than you were before cancer… You just may not see it yet, but you will.

We don’t go through nonsense like cancer for no reason, now we’re a light for someone else dealing with it. It’s our calling, our responsibility, as survivors. I like to think that the radiation gives me a brighter, warmer glow that draws people in. 😉 We all have what it takes to pull others through the darkness and show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there, the more you help others, the brighter you and your future gets.

Have an incredible week!

“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.”  ~Ben Sweetland

Urgency and All That Jazz…

iStock_000009490162_ExtraSmallThe past two weeks have been difficult for my family. My younger brother passed away and though his health was bad, it blindsided everyone. Seeing my parents hurt has been the hardest part. I’m a “fixer” and I’m used to being able to fix everything and this can’t be fixed. It’s going against all that I’ve believed about myself and what I can do and that is hard to live with.

Besides that it has created a renewed urgency in my life that I had nearly forgotten. In that sense, something good has come of the bad. I had become a bit ambivalent about my health, my life, and my goals… Okay, I admit it, I got lazy. I’ve always known that I was going to achieve amazing success, but just started sitting there waiting for it to just show up (like that would happen). Now, I feel that I have to act fast if anything is to happen at all.

My determination to get more fit than I’ve ever been has exploded and suddenly I’m aware of everything I eat and do to my body; which is long overdue. I feel like sponge, taking it all in and focusing in ways that I never thought possible. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT giving up chocolate or ice cream, but the way I look at food as a whole has changed. I eat because I’m hungry, not bored or depressed and I don’t eat just because everyone else does (I’ve never got the whole must have three meals a day thing… I’m just not that hungry).

I’ve officially registered for the Pretty Muddy event in Columbus for September and am in the process of getting registered for two other events in March and April. So now it’s a matter of building my endurance back up and learning more about trail running, which is something very new to me. I’m excited in ways that I’ve never been before about fitness and ways to stay strong over forty (Age is also playing into this, as I see others my age looking and acting twice our age… Which should be a crime!).

So, now to move even more aggressively toward what needs to be done to stay healthy and hang around to torment those around me (and I’m planning on doing that for MANY years to come… Go ahead, be afraid). My advice to you is not to wait for the death of a friend or loved one to give your life a sense of urgency, take care of yourself now because I can tell you one thing… It doesn’t get easier with age.

Have a great week and get to work on you and your future.

Hugs!

“The idea is to die young as late as possible.”  ~Ashley Montagu

 

Becoming the Runner… Again

PM-Blogger-Badges_FNLBecoming a runner or should I say, re-becoming a runner doesn’t get any easier with age and wow, I’m discovering this fact more and more everyday! It’s not that anything is harder on a physical level; it’s the mental and day to day stuff. When I did this ten years ago, the kids were younger and didn’t have a better and busier social life than I did. Yes, I had cancer, but that seemed to push me harder. There’s something about a doctor questioning my ability to continue something I love after surgery that makes me want to prove them wrong (and oh how I did!).

Now, I’m working full time, running my own business, as well as having four kids going every direction imaginable. Nothing is easy now and spare time is a rare and very limited quantity. I have five possible days a week to train for what is likely the biggest event of my life, so far, the Pretty Muddy Women’s Run in Columbus in September and eight months to pull it all together.

If you’ve never heard of such an event, it’s a mud run/obstacle course and like none of the similar events because it’s only open to women. Not something for the girl afraid of breaking a sweat or getting dirty, we will end up likely covered in mud, but having the time of our lives.

The event was started by a couple business men that felt that their wives deserved a little “me time” with their friends for all the hard work they did (yes, there are men that appreciate what we do). 😉 It has grown to an incredible event where girlfriends get together and have a great time. It’s more than a mud run, it’s an exciting women only event where women can cut loose and have fun!

For me, this is another one of those “Prove it to the world” events and want other survivors to see that even a gal with a gimpy knee can do fun and incredible things. Believe me, if I can do it, most of you can!

Over the coming months I’ll be sharing about the event and my progress getting ready for it. Hopefully, I may inspire others to take control of their health and remember not to allow anything (even cancer) hold you back.

Be well and have a wonderful week! 🙂

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”  ~Author Unknown

A taste of what’s to come: