Sunday, July 31, 2011

Life Keeps on Going - July 30, 2011

It's astonishing how quickly life just picks back up and keeps going. It doesn't miss a beat. And I don't want to miss a beat either.

It's really crazy how much my perspective on life has been altered. I don't see the point in waiting now. I mean, I'm still one of the most patient people you'll ever meet, but in terms of delaying things, I don't see the point. If I want to indulge and have ice cream, I will. I won't say no - I really shouldn't, or I haven't worked out enough this month to justify having that. I'm going to have it. I don't feel like there's really any more time to wait for things. On the same token, every experience I have now means just that much more. I'm that much more engaged, involved, outspoken. I talk to strangers, even more now. I laugh with them, strike up random conversations out of the blue. I connect more. I'm not as reserved in my personality as I used to be. Before - my primary concern was making sure everyone else was happy, unoffended, comfortable ... even if that meant I was sacrificing my own wants to ensure others were happy. That was OK by me. It was a regular thing. But now, I do what I want to do. If I don't want to do what you want to do, I say so. I'm still nice about it, obviously, but I speak up. This is new for me. I like this new me. I feel like I don't have time to wait for things to happen, instead I'm going to make them happen, insist they happen, because I don't have any time to wait, despite fighting for more time to live, and winning.

I started a new job on June 3rd. I'm a marketing manager for the investment banking unit of the company. Someone asked me how I found the job and if I was "actively" looking for new employment when I found it. It made me think ... was I "actively" looking? No ... no, I was just seeing what's out there and it caught my attention. Forward progress. I'm in constant motion, constantly seeking growth, before cancer and after cancer. Just now, after cancer - I'm more aggressive with going forward. I don't have time to wait. I don't have time. Letting life happen isn't a courtesy I feel like I can afford. I have to go get it. Because hell, despite your best efforts, you're always subject to indiscriminate circumstance.

--

I took July off from Tamoxifen ... on my own accord. OK - I mean my Onc implied it was an option so I took a little liberty with that and took July off by my own choice. I was just SO sad and so unmotivated and that lack of motivation was impacting my desire to get up in the morning and my desire to exercise - which resulted in a few extra lbs. - which didn't do anything to help counter the sadness. It was awful. Not a week off the tamoxifen and I felt amazing. I could feel a change in spirit and motivation. But I told myself that I would go back on in August. That's Monday. (sigh). BUT, there's only 5 months left to the year and the deal with my Onc was that I'd take it for 1 year after treatment before I came off of it and we could try for kids. I meet with my Onc again in September. Mike said he thought this would be the hardest part - the tamoxifen - because it was for so long and because it had a slow, subtle impact on my temperament. He was right. At least surgery was quick in comparison. Chemo too for that matter.

Speaking of chemo, my hair is coming in so curly! It's a lot of fun.

--

Bright Pink. I went to the BP Ambassador summit in July in Chicago. PS - I love Chicago! I had never been there and it was such a beautiful city! Anyhow, during the summit we worked on our "story" ... our reason for being involved in BP. Initially, when I became involved with BP, I thought my diagnosis was just a fluke, random occurrence ... an anomaly. We had no genetic disposition nor any family history to speak of ... so at the summit I talked about how BP's mission of early detection and education rang true for me because early detection and education is what saved my life. People always asked me, how did I know to check? I never really knew how to answer this because I feel like I just always thought I should be checking, it's what they taught us to do in health class so many years ago. Yes ... I paid attention.

When I got home from the summit, I got an email from my mom who had correspondence with a cousin on my father's side of the family. In this email I found out some interesting news. I'm more high risk than I thought. Here's how it kind of works out - my paternal first cousin's, father's mother died of cancer in her early 40's. My paternal grandfather died of cancer at 43. My paternal aunt died of cancer close to 50 years old. My paternal grandfather's sister died of cancer at 65. I have yet to know what kind of cancer everyone suffered from, but in my eyes, it's irrelevant. I've just gone from no family history to speak of, to a familial risk of cancer ... low risk to more risk than I thought. It makes me rethink my opinions of taking Tamoxifen now.

--

Mike and I regularly talk about whether or not we think my cancer will make a recurrence. When I thought my diagnosis was just a fluke, I would whole-heartedly answer no, I don't think it will. I don't think that's my fate. But now, in light of new information, my answer is not so whole-hearted. There's doubt where there was none before. It's somewhat dis-empowering because it feels like I've lost some control over my future. At least when I thought I didn't a family history, I felt in control. But now ... as foolish as it is to think I have any control over things like this, I feel truly scared because it feels more unpredictable.

3 comments:

  1. It's so good to "See" you Melissa!! LOL.

    I love how your take charge personality is shining through. I think cancer will always always change us in some ways, most good.

    I also understand the fear that comes with recurrence.. In fact I JUST posted a post about it yesterday. I would think the fear goes away the further you are from the diagnosis, but who knows if that is true?

    A proactive thing you may want to look into is genetic testing. I too, think (hope?) that my getting cancer young is a fluke. My oncologist suggested genetic testing to see if I have the BCRA1 and BCRA2 mutations. If I don't - it was a total fluke and if I do, I'll know I did the right thing by removing my breasts instead of a lumpectomy. (Peace of mind)

    Thinking of you often, and it was nice to see that you posted :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Michelle! I've actually been tested for the BRCA mutations and mine both came back with no mutation, so I don't have the genetic predisposition in that regard. I thought, like you, that since my tests came back negative that mine was a total fluke. Then I started digging around in our family history to turn up that we actually had a stronger familial history of cancer than I originally thought. I thought we didn't have any to speak of, and it turned out we did. So in addition to getting tested for the BRCA genetic mutations, I would say dig around in your family history as much as possible.

    I'll pop over to your blog and see what you've been up to. I've been so busy lately that I'm surprised I found a quite moment to post on mine! I hope you're doing well and are starting to feel like yourself again. Lots of love and support coming your way,
    Melissa

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are right. Life is strange. It gives us so many highs and lows, but keeps on moving. But whatever happens, life has to move.

    ReplyDelete