Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1 Year Ago Today - May 25, 2011

It's been one year. One year gone so quickly and so much has changed. One year gone, and Mike and I just plain forgot! Until now anyhow, after our day at work, after our workouts, after dinner -- it just suddenly dawned on me that oh yeah - today's my 1 year mark.

So, I'm feeling good and am cancer free. I'm down to 6 month and 1 year follow up appointments with my doctors. I've got 4 more years of monitoring until I'm fully in the clear. I can go back to my regular health appointments - which were put aside when my Onc took over. Did I mention my hair is coming in curly?

The curly hair is kind of expected, but unexpected all at the same time. I mean, I knew that it was possible - because of the damage the chemo does to the hair follicle - but it's another thing when it actually happens. It's fun. I mean, my hair was extremely straight before chemo, and now it's like I'm a totally different person. The curls may last, or they might just go away -- I'm good with either. I'm just thankful it came back, and it came back well thus far.

But what I think is most unexpected is how much my perspective on life has been seriously altered. I think I knew I would feel different once this was all over, but I don't think I really knew to what degree I would feel different. I feel very different. Not only do I feel like I am different on the outside, with the implants and curly hair, not to mention the length of the hair, and the extra pounds that don't seem to want to come off -- but I feel tremendously different inside.

I don't want to wait. I've lost some of my passive nature. I don't want to miss out on anything. I speak up more now - you're more likely to hear what's on my mind now, than ever before. It's a different type of confidence. It's a confidence that's driven by a heightened sense of appreciation for living. I have a drive to maximize everything - I feel like I was given (earned?) a second chance, a second life - and as cliche as it sounds, I don't want to waste any of these new minutes. Everything that I wanted to do before I went through treatment, everything I felt like I had time to do ... I want to do even more now, sooner. I feel like I actually don't have that much time any more. That "we" don't, as people. I want to do everything that I've ever wanted to do, and I want to pursue all those goals that I've set for myself -- all with a new sense of urgency.

And on the same token, things that were so "important" before, aren't really such a big deal now. The small things are really small things that don't get a second thought anymore. I mean I care - I still care a lot about everything - but if it's not truly meaningful or important, I don't get hung up on it. There's not enough time to.

I've been given a new appreciation for life. I can truly say I LOVE life. I love living. It's an amazing and intriguing thing. You really just float through it, connecting and disconnecting as time passes. Meeting new people, finding old friends .... changing over and over again as you're impacted by these relationships. Making memories, laughing at memories, crying at memories - it all goes so quickly. So if there's one thing that I've learned from this last year of experiences, it's that you shouldn't wait. You never know when it's your time or whether or not you're going to get a second chance. And if you happen to do get a second chance, then go for it. All of it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 346 - Feeling Better

I'm slowly starting to feel better -- more and more like me again. I'm not sure if it's because I've been inconsistent with taking my Tamoxifen ... but it could be a factor.

But for now, I'm happy feeling happier. =)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 339 - Not me

I'm feeling sad ... depressed ... maybe not depressed -- but blue. I smile and laugh when there's something to smile and laugh at, but then I revert back to feeling sad. My motivation is gone -- my "get up and go," got up and went -- and left me standing alone trying to figure out how to move out of the dust. There's no sparkle to my day, no urgency to do anything -- it's hard to get up in the morning. Time just ticks away.

It's really hard feeling like this. This isn't me.

My perspective is so different than it was before cancer. Things that used to be urgent and important, really aren't so anymore. I do what I do because I have to, not because I want to right now. I feel like I got a new lease on life, but I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it. Am I suppose to just go back and live it like I was before? Like none of this happened? That feels shallow -- unappreciative of my survival.

"When you have no other choice, you have no fear. You do what you have to do," ... Survival.

But then what? What happens after you survive? How are you suppose to go back when you've gone through something that has altered you at the core. I know it sounds a little dramatic ... but it's how I'm feeling -- at least right now anyway.

I look back at our wedding pictures and it feels like it was so long ago. It's hard to identify with the "me" I was then. I mean -- I still love the same things, but so much has changed. So many important things have changed. It's like we have a whole different life now. Even our dog is different. So much change in not so much time. Maybe I have whiplash.

I asked my doctor if this is a normal side effect of the tamoxifen -- this sadness. She said it could be, but it could also be a normal phase after undergoing treatment in the way that I did. Lately, I could cry at the drop of a hat. I cried when I emailed her to ask her what the hell was wrong with me. I cried when I read her reply. I cried at dinner when I was telling Mike I'm not sure what's wrong with me. I cried when I told him that working out is really hard - that it's tough to feel the muscles move the way do, that I can't stretch my arms back the way I used to -- it's tough not feeling any strength in your upper body any more. It makes yoga really tough sometimes ... and I love yoga. Mike said maybe I just need to sit and have a good cry -- get it out.