Numbers. Sometimes, cancer and all that comes with it seems to always come down to numbers. There are a lot of numbers involved in managing life during and after cancer. White Blood Cells, neutrophils during cancer, after cancer it is things like polyps, clots, and scans to be managed. The numbers leave me overwhelmed and angry sometimes. I have to concentrate really hard on not asking why me? But asking, “Why not me?”
As I was driving the other day and talking to myself I realized that my expectations are just perhaps to high. Or that so much discussion about things can create expectations that are going to do nothing but disappoint.
I’m not even talking about being disappointed about having cancer at 32 and life never returning to like it was before cancer. I’m talking about how I’ve been disappointed that I went to college, graduated but have yet to find the career and money that all of the educational professionals set up the expectation for if I went to college after high school. Or that if I join a group of people with similar experiences I will find and create lasting friendships.
I’m trying my best to find the positives in my life right now but my expectations are making it difficult because I keep ending up disappointed. Maybe it is better to not have outside expectations, just concentrate on the expectations that I have for myself.
Little life update a couple of weeks into 2021. On the fifth day of the month I got let go from my job. After the dumpster fire of 2020 this probably should have sent me into some sort of downward shame spiral. The truth is that I’ve been relieved since it happened. I’m excited to move past a situation that made me cry pretty much everyday and made me feel isolated and completely worthless. I’m excited to make a clean start with work and with the new year.
I’ve started running again but I’m not sure how I feel about running in the cold. It feels good to just move my body, empty my mind and honestly just concentrate on how much I want the running to be over 🙂 Overall, exercise has been harder because the gym closed but it always feels good to partake in some sort of physical activity.
I have started changing a lot of other routines in an effort to make 2021 better. I revamped my entire skincare routine. I’ve also started eating a more plant based diet. Honestly, it means that I’m just eating more salads.
Most important, I’m trying to say yes more this year. I realized towards the end of the last year all too often my first instinct is to say no do things. So this year I’m going to say yes. I’m going to say yes if I’m invited to go up north for the weekend. I’m going to say yes to going to parties. I’m going to say yes to trying foods that I don’t like. I just want to say yes so I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on anything.
That’s my life update so far into 2021. Everyday it’s making progress towards the steps of a fresh start in 2021.
This was supposed to be my year, where things could really start moving in a favorable direction. But you proved to be a formidable opponent, one really insistent on raining on my parade and that of everyone else.
You’ve made me question my self worth more times than I’ve ever done before. I’ve learned to say I’m lonely because of you and that is never easy to say. I’ve learned to say that I need help because you brought me to the precipice of losing all hope. Because of you I’ve learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
But your lessons haven’t all been bad. I learned that stuff I liked to do as a little kid is still fun as an adult. I learned that my family is always there and always loves me. Travel is fun and something I am destined to do more of. Perhaps most importantly, I’m learning to believe in the idea that things take time but eventually I’ll get to where I’m supposed to be.
So 2020 I’m glad to see you go and I can only hope the new year gets better because after you there’s really no direction to go but up.
I was listening to a podcast this morning and the host asked the guest if they were happy with their life. Heavy question for the guest, heavy question to hear on a Monday, and a heavy question for me to think about myself. I spent all day thinking about this question and my answer is that I am not happy with my life. That’s a really hard sentence to write, I’ve never said it out loud.
The even harder part of not being happy with my life is trying to figure out what would make me happy with my life. I’ve been working on this a lot in therapy and I’ve been trying to get back to things I liked to do as a kid. I plan to try cross country skiing if there’s enough snow this winter because I loved playing in the snow as a kid. I also might here about fashion type things because that was another thing I loved as a kid, fashion and all the glamorous things like Barbie had, different outfits for each occasion.
But will these things make me happy with my life? I have no clue. All I know is that I’m trying to figure it out because I don’t want to regret things. I don’t want to look back and think I should have lived more.
The other day I saw an Instagram post about finding someone who you can share all your baggage that has resulted from cancer or some sort of genetic mutation and it got me thinking. First, I got to thinking about the Instagram “cancer influencers” that I found and followed on and off for a couple of years. Second, I got to thinking about all of the reasons that being single right now is pretty awesome.
A lot of the cancer influencers I have found fit an easy to describe mold. They are usually married and were married before their cancer diagnosis. Then they are skinny and fit, comfortable showing their scars naked or in a swimsuit. Perhaps most the best way to describe it is that in the Cancer High School for Young Survivors they would be the popular cheerleader types. I can’t think of anybody I’ve found who has some sort of similarity to my story. I was single before, during, and after cancer. I’m not skinny and fit where I would feel comfortable showing my scars to anyone let alone the whole of Instagram. I don’t even like wearing a bathing suit without putting my long sleeved rash guard over top. (The rashguard is also skin cancer prevention, but I digress.) I don’t want kids, never have wanted kids, and now can’t have kids, which is hard for my fellow “breasties” to understand. What I’m getting at is I have a lot of ducking baggage that I can’t handle sometimes and continues to impact me still, so how the hell am I going to worry about finding a potential partner who is willing to help with my baggage? I know this person’s post meant well but it was really a reminder of how different people’s journeys can be sometimes.
It also got me thinking of all the reasons why being is awesome.
- I get the whole darn bed to myself, if I want to lay diagonally across the bed then that’s what I am going to do.
- I don’t have to worry about how much money I spend. If I want a $99 eye cream then I’m going to buy it, I don’t have to worry about anyone else. Well except for future me who gets the AMEX bill and might yell at past me for spending too much on eye cream.
- Maybe the biggest reason being single is awesome is I get to figure out who I am on my own before finding someone who might want to hold some of my baggage.
Cancer is a battle, if it was easy it wouldn’t be such a bitch. Life after cancer can be of a bitch as well. Because of this I’m not really concerned about finding someone to help with my baggage. I also need to stop paying attention to the cancer influencers because they’re nothing like me and it is a good thing.
It seems that in medicine everything gets shortened to some sort of acronym. Earlier this month I got to add PE and DVT to the alphabet soup of my medical history.
I had gone in for a routine CT Scan to make sure I was still NED or no evidence of disease (again the shortening of terms). On a Thursday night, the oncologist called asking if I was experiencing any sort of pain or shortness of breath. I said no and was trying not to freak out the oncologist was calling at 7:30. He explained that a blood clot showed up on my CT in my lung and I needed to go to the emergency room right away. So off I went and didn’t return home until Monday afternoon. Long story short I spent the weekend hooked to an IV receiving blood thinner and feeling healthy other than the blood clot in my lung (the PE) and the one found in my leg (the DVT). I was sent home with a prescription blood thinner that I get to take for as long as I am on my cancer drug Anastrozole.
What I have realized in the days since my weird hospital stay is that I can feel sorry for myself and ask why me? Or I can ask why not me? There were a lot of events that led up to the finding of my blood clot that at the time seemed like shitty life blows. But those things that sucked helped in the best way to find the blood clots early on and keep it from becoming a potentially life threatening situation. So PE and DVT join the alphabet soup of DIEP, HER2, ER/PR and others. Also, I’m still in a steady relationship with NED!
For the last few weeks at work I’ve been singing the song from the Sound of Music, these are a few of my favorite things. So I thought I would write about a few of my favorite things that got me through my cancer journey. (I also recently renewed my plan for this website so I figure I need to write more!)
During chemo I think sweatpants were definitely my favorite thing. I got a couple of $7 pairs at Target from the men’s department and I lived in those things all weekend following my Thursday treatments. In an attempt to stay hydrated I drank only Boxed Water is Better water because it was the only water that tasted like water. Thanks to the Carboplatin everything I drank tastes like what ever the container was like plastic or metal. The other thing that stands out is Entenmann’s mini Muffins, any flavor those things some days were the only thing I would eat.
Other favorites that I picked up during cancer and all that it’s had to offer. First, EO hand sanitizer it is clean ingredients and comes in a variety of sizes. I had a tiny little vial that fit in my pocket because germs are everywhere. Cocoa Butter is another favorite, my plastic surgeon recommends using it on scars, it is nicely moisturizing and you smell great after putting it on. She also recommends using mineral sunscreen on scars because I guess once they are exposed to sun and turn brown they will never fade. So I have become a big fan of mineral sunscreen in stick form, it’s super easy to make sure you have covered your scars and the little stick is easy to take anywhere.
So those are a few of my favorite things. Ironically, the Sound of Music, not one of my favorite things.
Lately, I feel very stuck. Yes, some of it is due to my terrifying fear of coronavirus so I still try to stay home as much as possible. But the majority of my feeling stuck stems from life and all that every new day has to offer.
For a few years now I have been looking for a new job but to no avail. Everyday I feel a little more stuck in the job that is making me miserable. So with the help of my therapist we created a mantra that boils down to making progress everyday. But what if at the end of the day I can not find anything that makes me feel as if I have made some sort of progress?
If nothing else I got dressed today. A little over a week ago I lost my job due to the coronavirus. I’m not writing that sentence for sympathy or awareness of how its affecting everybody, I write it more for posterity sake. Its been a struggle today (and the past few days) but I eventually got myself out of bed and if nothing else I got dressed today.