That Scattered Feeling

lighthouseIt’s been close to thirteen years since my diagnosis and as a whole, I think that I’ve done
pretty well…

Three surgeries…. Done, done, and done!

Radiation… Thirty-five and a lovely glow!

Infections… Staph, strep, and one that I never remembered the name, treated and done!

Depression… Treated and done with!

Scars… Went from devastated to entering contests for best scar and story!

Focus issues… Well, there are great days and then… I just love vanilla ice cream.

I can’t blame chemo brain because I didn’t have it, but I’ve been told that any long term crisis can create issues with concentration and focus. Before cancer, I never had issues with attention, but now I struggle to finish a book (And considering I read four to five at one time, it’s a miracle any are finished) or complete some projects. Organization is also a significant issue and I’m hoping that downsizing and decluttering my life will make a difference.

From what I’m reading this is all normal or our new “normal” and we just need to adapt.
For me, it’s become a struggle to keep track of important documents and this can often be disastrous. I’ve lost important papers that ended up costing outrageous late fees or worse. Everyday I struggle with this.

Downsizing and decluttering has become my hope to making it easier. I find that if I’m dealing with clutter and too much going on, I practically shut down and accomplish nothing. I’ll distract myself with the computer and basically do nothing, but veg out. Which is NEVER a good thing.

So, I have found that there are measures we can take to assist us staying on track and I’m going to share them with you.

  1. Try to eliminate as much paper and clutter, as humanly possible. I love recipes, but now only print when I KNOW that I’m going to make it within a couple of days. If not and I truly want to keep the recipe, I find a way to save it to a document and save it on the computer (make sure that you periodically purge these files, as to not waste computer memory).
  2. Start making a concerted effort to finish books and smaller tasks (one thing at a time!). This is one area I’ve been seriously pushing myself to small victories. It feels good when I complete one area and not juggling fifteen others.
  3. File, file, FILE! Don’t just lay it down, give it a home! Whether it be the filing cabinet or the trash, deal with it!
  4. Turn the computer off (This is my weakness and my greatest struggle). Walking away from the computer is a gift to yourself and allows you time to focus on the world around you.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ve been through a lot and it takes time to get your footing with this new life. You may always have an issue with feeling scattered, but you can live with that and it will be fine.

We will get through this and feeling a bit scattered is a small thing in the scheme of life… We may never get rid of the feeling completely, but we can try to control the areas that add to the stresses we live with.

I’m a long way from being on top of it, but I’m moving in that direction. It’s taken thirteen years to grasp that what I’ve been doing isn’t working and that changes have to be made to make my life easier to deal with. I’ve been trying to juggle multiple blogs instead of choosing one and making it wonderful and all have suffered, but now I’m going to focus on this one and my passion for survivors. I’m going to focus on you and hopefully, something wonderful is about to happen. I’ll admit my failings and share my insanity, so you’ll see that we’ll all be just fine in the end.

I hope this has offered a little assistance or comfort in your life…

Have a wonderful week ahead.

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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

 

 

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

 

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

Image

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

Pain Sucks… And You Live With It

ImageThe whole time I had cancer growing inside me, it was painless and I’m glad for that… From what I’ve read, if your cancer gets to the point where it hurts, it’s a very bad thing. That said, I never hurt until they “fixed” me. Now I know the way the weather is going to go before and more accurately than the weatherman, but that’s okay.

A nerve was removed and I can’t feel the skin on the back of my calf, which makes for adventures in shaving and there’s nothing quite like having an itch, but being unable to feel yourself scratch it… But that’s okay.

Radiation has made my leg so dry that there are times that it scabs over, but that’s okay, too.

It’s all okay because I have a working leg and am living a wonderful life, despite cancer. I can live with pain. I can live with numbness. I can live with dryness. I’ve been living with this for close to ten years…

I can live with all of this because I’m alive to live with it. Pain hurts less when you look at the alternative.

It’s amazing what we can live with!

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”  ~Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life, 1977

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

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!