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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

 

Battle Scars… Flaunt Them Baby!!!

If you’d asked me my thoughts on this subject shortly after surgery or even five years ago, my answer would have been much different than they are now… My scar is HUGE and though I’m not going to roast in the summer to hide it, I’ve still downplayed it like it wasn’t there. Ashamed of it and embarrassed.

I don’t know if it’s age or just a new found confidence in the past year or so, but I’ve swung completely the other direction. I’ve even entered contests for the best scar and story (didn’t win, YET, but determined to kick butt someday!). I will mess with you, if you ask (in fun, not in a mean way) and will make jokes about it. All in all, it’s become a way of breaking the ice and lightening the atmosphere.

Some can hide their cancer scars, but as you know, even if you can’t see them, they’re ever present and life changing. There’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with sharing it, but there’s amazing freedom in owning them. Not only do you feel free, but you will undeniably help someone else dealing with the same thing.

There’s no doubt, it’s scary, but worth it! Be brave, flaunt it (as long as it won’t get you arrested) and feel the power it gives you.

Have a great week and remember that you’re far stronger than you think you are.

Hugs!

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

 

When a Friend Recurs… Don’t JUST Eat Cookies

Living post cancer takes some getting used to and it takes a while to get to our new “normal” and even that becomes a strain when a friend’s cancer returns. It seems that the longer you live cancer free, the more you have to deal with friends that have their cancer recurring and unfortunately some will lose the battle. It’s a heartbreaking fact that we live with. For some of us, it’s when we start banging our heads against the wall and fear starts shooting through us. Something that logically we know can and will happen, but a fact we don’t want to face.

When my best friend’s cancer returned and sadly took her life, I was devastated because I felt that after several years that we HAD to be safe! This wasn’t supposed to happen and I was furious. Spent nearly a month just wanting to sleep and eat cookies, not wanting ANYTHING to do with the rest of the world. Living with the blind rage that I hadn’t felt since I was first diagnosed, it took nearly a year to move past it.

The bottom line is that these feelings are normal, we are human and life is delicate. When someone we care about has their cancer return it makes us question if ours will, also and it might, but we can’t allow it to paralyze us and keep us from living.

There are a few things you can do to ease the fears…

  • Don’t hide in bed (I know this first hand. I was a train wreck that just wanted to sleep and eat cookies and that did NOTHING to help). You need to get out with people and be active. Your friends will help give you the strength to move forward.
  • Understand that though the chance is always out there, your cancer won’t necessarily return because your friend’s did. It will make you aware that it can, but the future isn’t written in stone.
  • Take this time to remember that you need to take your health seriously. Being complacent isn’t going to be helpful. This is your reminder to how delicate life is.
  • Be there for your friend. You’ve been there and know what they are feeling. Give back and be grateful that you can.

These are only a few ways to move through the fear, but the best thing you can do is keep living and not hole up and hide. Being active, social, and finding someone to talk to is important. Life is a gift and if you’ve survived cancer, it’s a gift you cannot take for granted. Share sunshine and light up the world with hope.

Have a wonderful week and spread some sunshine and why not share a few cookies too… Cookies make EVERYONE happy, but you can’t live on them (though some of us try).

“Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?”  ~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

Chaotic Logic or Let’s Live?

Let me to clarify that this is only my opinion and clearly not everyone else’s, but I’m sure that cancer has the same affect on other survivors as well. Logically, we all know that our cancer can come back at any given time and for the first few years after NED (No Evidence of Disease) we walk on eggshells with every set of scans, but as the years go by we breathe easier.

By year five we’re getting pretty comfortable in our survivorship and with every year after that, even more comfy in it. Some of us actually start getting a bit complacent and a tad lazy in the promises that we made to ourselves when the bombshell was originally dropped.

Then one day, one of us are struck by it again… And the bottom falls out of our lives. Not only do they recur, but they lose the battle and in our mind (okay, my mind) that isn’t possible. How can this be??? We win, we don’t lose! Who can we call about this, because this is simply not acceptable? I want to know NOW! I want to talk to whoever is in charge because this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be!

Now, I’m not stupid (naïve, yes, but not stupid) and I know that my cancer can come back, but I choose not to live my life that way (I’ve got the whole denial thingy down to a science). The thing is that I forgot the promise I made to myself to LIVE. Once again, swept away by life and everything that “seems” important at the moment, instead of what really is important to living a full life.

Someone mentioned that now I know how they felt when they lost their best friend and I’d agree with that if it wasn’t for the other emotions in play here… Blind rage because we are survivors and we have ALREADY won this battle and sheer terror because we know that no matter how many times we tell ourselves that we’re good to go, it CAN come back.

Life is meant to be lived and DOING what matters is WHAT MATTERS. Tomorrow never comes and sitting on our thumbs waiting until tomorrow to make our dreams happen, doesn’t work. Now is all there is, there’s no guarantee that tomorrow will be there. Have I covered every possible cliché on the subject???

I lost my best friend a couple weeks ago and honestly NEVER saw it coming. Should have, but didn’t and now a dream was missed, but there was a promise made and THAT PROMISE will happen!

We need to stop allowing procrastination control our lives. It’s time to move full speed ahead… Anything is possible IF we keep moving forward. We can change the world if we remember to stop putting living on hold for life. Let’s live!

We can find a cure to this horrible disease and stop these losses, if we as survivors don’t stop living and don’t forget that WE ARE SURVIVORS!

Photo courtesy of http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/