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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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!

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

 

50/50 Movie – A Users Guide to Surviving Cancer

I recently bought and watched the movie 50/50 and all I can say is “Wow! I needed that when I was diagnosed!” Now, I’m not saying that it’s 100% how I felt, but knowing that some of what this guy felt made me feel normal. When diagnosed, no one explained the emotional side of what you go through and how it changes you. Even when the doctor is explaining the diagnosis and how It’s heard is on the mark.

This movie touches on so many areas with humor, but you need to understand that it earns its “R” rating with a lot of language, but considering what is going on in this young man’s life, you kind of “get it.” Besides, I’m not one to swear (hate it for the most part), but after meeting my radiation oncologist with his god-awful bedside manner and him saying that 20 years ago, I’d have just lost my leg at the hip… I dropped the “F” bomb about the whole situation. To say I was under duress is a bit of an understatement. Face it, cancer sucks and people should allow for such things.

The humor of 50/50 will strike a note with many survivors… Your sense of humor tends to get a bit “whack” when going through treatment and let’s face facts, some of what you see in the movie has happened to many people. People bail on you because they can’t handle the diagnosis or some stay around just because they feel sorry for you, but there are those awesome individuals that will hold your hand while you scream in anger and laugh with you when you look back on it. They’ll smuggle you treats into the hospital and help you use your diagnosis to get out of events (yes, the guys admitted to doing this in the Special Features).

Speaking of the Special Features, you MUST watch them to meet the guy that was the inspiration for the movie. Seth Rogen actually stood by him through his cancer and their stories will make you smile all the more.

This is a great movie and will help any survivor realize that we all go through a process when we’re diagnosed and it involves all the emotions. That it’s also great to seek out help in dealing with these issues, but most of all it shows how a great friend can make the whole process go a lot easier…

Enjoy the movie and have a great week…

Here’s the movie website: http://www.50-50themovie.com/

 

Creating a Care Package for a Friend with Cancer

Putting together a care package for a friend with cancer will be one of the most wonderful gifts you can give. I’m speaking from experience and every little gift and card keeps your spirit going (I have each and every card and item seven years later). It doesn’t have to be elaborate because it’s the thought that counts, anyhow and it blesses regardless.

Here are some fun ideas, followed by a list of special items that help cancer survivors through their treatment.

1.       Lemon Drops—Helps settle stomach and with dry mouth… Just plain yummy.

2.       Mint Tea—Soothing and assists with digestion.

3.       Aquaphor—This is a must for those going through radiation. Helps with burn and the extremely dry skin.

4.       Silky Soft Scarf/Hat—Nice for those dealing with hair loss, especially when it’s cold.

5.       Stuffed Animal—Just something fun that ends up meaning a lot. Took mine with me for each surgery.

6.       Card—There are a number of nice cancer support cards available these days (Have seen them at both Hallmark and Walmart).

7.       Chocolate—Need I say more? Be careful if individual is having chemo, but if not, should be good to go!

8.       Puzzle Books—Something to do during treatment/recovery.

9.       Inspirational Books—There are a number of wonderful books on the subject matter. A personal favorite is Chicken Soup for the Survivor’s Soul.

10.   Trashy Novels—This is a matter of personal taste and could as easily be mysteries or whatever the individual prefers.

11.   CDs—Feel good music and or something soothing to help rest when needed.

These are just a few ideas, but put them in a nice little basket or gift bag and I guarantee you’ll have a winner.

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

Pardon???

Now tell me, if someone told you that you had Liposarcoma… Wouldn’t you be scratching your head, wondering what the heck they were talking about? I KNOW, ME TOO! Shoot, it sounds more like something that you pay to have done, than something that you get diagnosed with! Throw in the fact that I was diagnosed on Friday the 13th and you have the makings of some twisted joke.  Yep, that’s my life!

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a pleasant period of my life, but looking back I see the humor (I’m really sick and twisted that way). From the argument with the Operating Room nurse that included the whole head bobbing thing that I mock others for doing, to walking around with the ability to make water spray from my leg and actually saying that “I’m fine.” Yeah, I was an idiot, but a cute and entertaining one!

So when life seems bleak and without a boatload of hope, remember you can go further than you believe and when you look back, there will be moments that will make you smile.  If I can do it, anyone can.

“Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.”  ~Author Unknown

Cancer Diagnosis AKA Mad Dog Syndrome

Seeing the bright side of cancer is difficult for anyone and generally you need to be on the back side of it to see ANYTHING positive from the experience, but it CAN happen. Toss in a twisted sense of humor and the cancer experience can have its moments of humor.

There are those incredible individuals that are diagnosed with cancer and go at it like Patton… Then there are those, like me that go at it like Cujo. We’re mild mannered individuals until someone decides to drop the cancer bomb on us and then it gets butt ugly. If I recall, hunkered down in a corner growling and frothing at the mouth; ready to take the head off the first individual that tried to be positive was the best description of me. Does that sound familiar to anyone else? It might be an exaggeration, but not by much.

The point I’m trying to make is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to handle a cancer diagnosis. It’s okay to go a little crazy or A LOT CRAZY if need be… The important thing is not to let it cause you to freeze up and do nothing; you need to move forward, and go into battle. Sometimes in battle, you need to be a little crazy to win.

“Crazy… The only REAL cure for cancer.”

(The picture for this post really has nothing to do with anything, but I thought it was cute)