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!)!

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!

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

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…