Sharing my life with you, is what I do.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My Journey With Cancer-What I learned When I Let Go

I am so thankful that I not only wrote but published and let others read my last post. I could have simply written and deleted it or written and left it as a draft. But, it was important and imperative that I write it and let others read it. Because we don't share the ugly enough. Especially as women. I was thinking about the day I found out that I have cancer. My husband and I had just dropped our teens off for their 1st day of school and returned home. I was expecting a call with my results, but I wasn't expecting to be told that I had cancer. Let alone cancer that had already spread. I immediately went into "mom mode." I wanted to make sure everyone else was okay. My husband, my mom, my siblings and especially my children. I was even trying to figure out what to make for dinner that evening. And from that moment until I wrote that post a few days ago, I had been in go mode. Even though I thought I was handling the stress of my diagnosis and all that, I wasn't. I started having daily headaches, chest pains and finally lower back pains that felt like someone was tying my back muscles in painful knots and pulling them tighter and tighter. Every time my heart beat my entire body would hurt. That made me realize that I really wasn't dealing with my stress at all. I had to let it out. Crying wasn't doing it. I had to face every truthful feeling I had suppressed and release them.

A lot of us, men and women alike are taught to not complain. Because that would make us seem ungrateful and we should never seem ungrateful because we have to much to be thankful for. Well, we do have a lot to be thankful for. But, we also are humans that live in a chaotic world where insane things can happen in the blink of an eye. We are also taught to be "Strong." I hear that word a lot. People tell me I am strong all the time. So, with my current situation, I fixated on that. People call me strong, they expect me to be strong so I have to be strong. Well, let me tell you something. Being "strong" almost took your girl out. For real. If I had not recognized what was happening to me and released all that I was holding on to.......I don't even like to think about it.

I worried about sounding too negative in my last post. I even edited it at least 4 times so I wouldn't seem ungrateful. You see what I mean?? I was more worried about what other people would think of my rant. Worried that I might offend someone. I was about to DIE from stress!! But I was still over here worrying about seeming like I wasn't thankful.

Well, I am thankful. Every single day. Even on the sucky days. And I am doubly thankful that I followed my extremely stressed out mind and wrote my rant post because guess what? I haven't had a headache or a chest pain since. And, my back stopped hurting. It was as if a 50 pound weight was lifted from my spirit.

I released that negativity from myself. I spoke the words that a lot of people feel but won't say. I saved myself that day. I really believe that. This journey is changing me. And it has only just begun.

I will tell you this. If you see me and you ask me how I feel, be ready for an honest answer. If you don't want to know, don't ask. Because I'm not holding back anymore. I can't afford to.

Peace and Love.

P.S. I have embraced the Pink Ribbons again! I fight with them and for them!! #BreastCancerAwareness

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
―Ann Landers

Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Journey With Cancer-This is not a "feel good" post

Copyright Disney 

I lamented about even writing this post. But, when I started it, people commented that they admired my honesty. So, today's post is just that. How I feel, TODAY!

Today I feel angry. Actually, angry is too mild.

Yes! Pissed is a much much better way to describe how I feel. I am pissed that I have cancer! I am pissed that I have to wonder every day if I can really be cured. I am pissed that my family has to worry about me. I am pissed that the sight of pink ribbons now makes me sick! I say this after I bought 12 pairs of Breast cancer awareness socks that are really cute.  I know this my repulsion won't always be the case . This is just so new and still unbelievable to me.  I ask God daily to Bless all the amazing women fighting this horrible horrible dis-ease. And God Bless the survivors!! I am pissed that I have to put my life on hold AGAIN! I am pissed that some people are afraid to talk to me or they look at me as the "cancer lady and feel they have to handle me with super soft fuzzy pink mittens.  I am pissed that my body is scarred from my port surgery and that it will have even more scars after my surgery in January. I am pissed that my one of my sons cried at school during his lunch period because he worries about me. (and getting straight A's.) I am pissed that I may not be here to plant my garden in the Spring.

I am pissed that I may carry a cancer gene that I have passed down to my sons. I am pissed that I worry daily about if my husband will find me attractive if I have to have both of my breasts removed. He says, of course, he will. But I am pissed that I worry so much about that.  I am pissed that a family member was told not to mention my cancer to others like it's some kind of contagious plague passed on by word of mouth!  I am pissed that the chemo I take to hopefully survive could irreparably damage my heart! I am pissed that the type of breast cancer I have is more difficult to cure. I am pissed that people keep sending me posts about cancer. (even though I know they are coming from a place of love and care)

I am pissed that when I say how much I want to get back to acting, people say, "Just write!" I don't want to just write. I want to act! I've been writing my entire life! Would you tell a chef who lost their hands to just eat?? (I know they also mean well, but writing is not the same as acting. At least not to me.) I am pissed at the commercials that remind me that metastatic breast cancer is "relentless." Do they know how that makes people with this damn condition feel? It makes me feel horrible!!! And even quadruply(made up word??) worse when the medicine they offer can't even be offered to me. I am pissed that I had no idea just how many people on my father's side actually had cancer because nobody talks about it! I am pissed with the people that when they find out I have cancer give me a chipper, "Oh, you'll be just fine!" (I know they mean well. I am starting to believe that this is more for them than me)

*Pause for several deep cleansing breaths*

I am pissed that I don't know if my family will ever be able to take another vacation because my medical bills will be ridiculous even with insurance.
I am pissed that I wonder if  I will be able to celebrate my mother's next birthday, my next birthday, my son's birthday in June. My 25th wedding anniversary next July, or my son's high school graduation and all the other awesome dates that end in 2019 and beyond. Now, I know that I was never promised to see any of those days, but this hanging over me, just makes it stressful. I am pissed that I have doubts. I am pissed that I've wondered if God will answer Yes to my prayers to beat this disease.



I am thankful to the amazing people that have reached out to me. That have offered a ride, a prayer, sent a card, called to check on me, sent a message. Or that have made me laugh really hard! (Kevin Joseph, I love you! 😉)

I am thankful to my cousin, Gail who has been a shoulder to cry on years before this and remains such a calming force in my life, even though she keeps inviting to me breast cancer stuff that I'm not ready to deal with yet. (Feelings are still a bit raw, cousin)

My journey has just begun. And, I am sure that I will continue to have a range of emotions. However, the one I really hope to share with you all is the one of jubilation when I am deemed "cancer free."

If you've made it to the end of this post. Thank you for reading my rant. I feel so much better now.
*But I'm still pissed I even had to write a post like this*

Peace and Love

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” 
― Og Mandino

Friday, September 28, 2018

My Journey With Cancer-Step 3 Chemo Begins

Hubby Cutting My Hair

I've been wanting to update the blog, but I really had to get my head right. This entire experience has taken me through so many different emotions as you can imagine. The first for me was disbelief. Then came fear. Then depression set in Big Time.  I have a good friend and a cousin that fought cancer and being able to vent to them has been invaluable. They never let me sink. Along with my amazing husband, who is absolutely my rock and some other friends and family members, I know that I am absolutely not alone and I am very loved.

After we went to the conference with the doctors, they set up a chemo class with the nurse practitioner. I elected to go to the class alone. I needed to spend some time and let everything set in. I wasn't prepared to be presented with a huge binder. It was very overwhelming to read about all of the medicines and side-effects. I choked back the tears for most of the class. I got my temporary handicap placard and the dates for my chemo was set. NOW it was real!

Two days before chemo, I got my head shaved. I decided I would rather shave it than watch it all fall out. It was such a crazy experience. I thought I would be sad, but I wasn't at all. It actually felt quite good. It did make my youngest son really sad though. It finally hit him that this was all really happening.

1 day before chemo, We just stayed home. I hadn't slept well the night before and was utterly exhausted. However, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. I was actually ready to get started.

Chemo Day!! I managed to get some really good sleep overnight. Paul and I even hit our snooze buttons a few times.
We got to the hospital at 6:30am to check in. Used the handicapped placard to get a "good parking space."
 We were taken straight up to the out-patient surgery floor, where they would surgically implant a port in my chest where future blood draws would be given and where future blood draws would be taken. The surgery took about 2 hours. When I woke up in recovery, the pain that hit me was, whoo!! My arm and chest were on fire. They immediately gave me some pain meds and by the time I got dressed and brought up to the cancer center, the was thankfully subsiding. I was taken to one of the pods to relax and meet my nurse. She explained everything that I would experience during my time there. It was a really comfortable experience. First up was all of the anti-nausea drugs. I asked why there were so many of them. The explained that they work very hard to make sure that patients don't get nauseous and don't vomit. My particular chemo regimen is going to last for 4 months. I will do a cycle of 2 separate meds for the first 4 weeks and then only 1 med for the last four weeks. I also have an auto-injectable med that they attach after chemo. It activates 27 hours after my treatments. It is to help prevent my white blood cell count from falling to a dangerous level. The side effect is bone pain. But of course, they made sure I had pain meds on hand if it's unbearable for me. 

I didn't feel any discomfort after my treatments. And, I even felt good enough to go shopping afterward. Sleeping was kind of rough because of the surgery. This morning I was up to see the boys off to school and that made me happy. I ate well, rested a lot and even felt up to having a few visitors. My mood is great, my outlook is even greater. I believe I will beat this. I pray, meditate, and just talk to the Creator. This journey and fight are going to be a long one, but I'm up for the challenge. I'm disappointed that my acting in on hold, but its just temporary. And just because I'm not able to act right now, doesn't mind I can't continue to write my stories and work on scripts. I even told my agent that if she gets a breakdown for a cancer patient, I'm perfect for the job!

So, I'm doing okay. I have been so overwhelmed (in a good way) by all of the good thought, wishes and prayers sent my way.  My next treatment is October 11th.

Peace and Love, good people.

Not sure if you can see the "bump" in my chest
but that's where the port is. The white bandage is
where they went in. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My Journey with cancer-Step 2 (Info and More Tests)

I really didn't want to write today. I really just wanted to come home and pull the covers over my head and cry. Today was my chemotherapy class. I was presented with this giant binder full of information about all the medications I would be taking, all of the side effects and the rest of that good stuff. I choked back the tears for an hour because I needed to hear all that the nurse was presenting. I sat there in that fog again. Trying to make sense of all of this. How could this be happening? I really have cancer. Dammit!!

I also learned that my particular type of cancer is aggressive and that my treatment is a bit limited. Another day, another gut punch. I managed to ask what I needed to ask and I made sure I didn't leave there not understanding what I needed to know.  After that appointment, I had an echocardiogram. This is basically an ultrasound of the heart. I had to have one to make sure that my heart is strong enough to tolerate the chemo. Apparently one of the drugs used for my 1st round of therapy can sometimes affect the heart. Echo came out fine, so I am on track to begin my treatment next Thursday. Terrified doesn't describe how I feel right now.  I have noticed that I don't mind writing about all of this, but I am beginning to hate talking about it. It just seems to annoy me now. Everything seems to annoy me. I know it's just because of the anxiety  I'm feeling. If you know me, you know that I LOVE to talk. But, not lately. All of this has done a number on my psyche. It's just temporary. I'm working on it.

As long as I could remember, I've always loved butterflies.  Yesterday, I was saying to myself that right now, I feel like I am going into the chrysalis stage. That's the stage where the caterpillar goes into its' cocoon for a spell to complete the metamorphosis. My cousin, Gail referenced butterflies today when she spoke about a women's cancer group she is part of.  It was a validation for me. I feel like this is going to be a quiet period for me. Very introspective. Just going to take it one day at a time though and be kind to myself. I think some new comfy pajamas are in my future. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

My Journey With Cancer-Step 1

Thank you to everyone that read and/or shared my first blog post about my cancer diagnosis. I promised to keep the updates coming. Here's the first one.  Today has been a roller coaster of emotions. This has been happening a lot lately. I go from laughing to feeling anxious, to anger, to wanting to burst into tears.  I woke up to the news that a friend and co-worker of my husband had passed away. He had drowned. That was not the way to start my day. But, I got myself together because today was the conference with the doctors.  I noticed that I was pretty stressed out when I got off the elevator at the hospital. It's something about stepping off and seeing the words: CANCER CENTER. I instantly got a bit angry. I shouldn't have to be here. Nobody should have to be here. I looked at all of the other patients and sadness took over. I don't know any of their stories, but somehow they intertwine with mine because we all have cancer. That still sounds so weird to me to say out loud. I felt annoyed that I have to go through this. It's not fair that cancer even exists and comes in and turns your entire life upside down. I took a deep breath and waited until they called my name. I went into the room and sat, alone. A very kind med student came in. I was asked a million questions about my health and then given a quick examination. The physician that will be handling my case came in later.

Next came the conference. My husband and mother joined me in a conference room to meet with the doctors that will be treating me. We sat at a small round table with paper to take notes. I looked out of the window not wanting to meet eyes with anyone for a moment. I just wanted to wish it all away.  The doctor came in and explained what my treatment plan would be. We would start with tests to make sure my heart was strong enough for the chemo. Chemo could start as early as next week and would continue for 4 months. I was told that it will make me sick right after and for a few days after that. That's hard to swallow. I look fine and I feel fine right now. And in order for me to be cured, I have to become sick. That makes no sense to me. but lately, nothing makes much sense. For the chemo, they will place a port under my skin to make it easier to access my veins for the treatments. Really not looking forward to that. They also let me know my hair will fall out by the 2nd treatment. That was pretty hard to hear. But, it's only hair, right? Yeah right. I just got my hair the way I like it and now I am going to be bald. For the Winter! In Chicago!  I tell myself that at least I can get away with wearing some pretty groovy hats though. Surgery will come later, closer to the end of my treatments. The hope is that the chemo will shrink the cancer cells in my lymph nodes so they won't have to remove so many. Because that could cause me to develop lymphedema, which is a painful swelling of the lymph nodes that would also affect my left arm. And wouldn't you know it, I'm left-handed.  All of this is still pretty surreal. People keep telling me to stay strong and keep up my spirits. But, right now I don't feel strong. My spirits are not up and I just want to get on a plane and go somewhere really quiet and beautiful. I am thankful for all of the wonderful words of support and love I've received. This is just a pretty rough time for me. Tomorrow I have to have a "chemo class." That is where I get all the info about the effects of the chemo and the meds I'll be given to counteract those effects. It's a lot to take in. But, I have to be ready because next week, it begins.

Peace and Love