Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Feeling Free!!!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying some sunshine (responsibly) and having a good start to your summer!

Sometimes having cancer can be like having a full time job. This is how it has felt like around our house the last couple of weeks. I was determined to not let these latest doctors appointments and procedures ruin my happy feeling of being off the Interferon. I really am feeling amazingly better! Like I said in my last post, I was going to meet with the thyroid doctor and that visit went really smoothly. My ultrasound didn't show any drastic changes over the past 6 months so he discharged me to be followed up by my GP. We will be keeping an eye on my thyroid function levels and I will be going for another thyroid ultrasound in the next year.

I did have a few lumps and bumps removed over three weeks ago and finally got the pathology back on Monday which came back benign. No cancer! What a relief! I was trying not to think of what would happen if these came back malignant. But sometimes it's really hard not to when you know that it is possible. More treatment? More scans and tests? I prayed alot over the past few weeks and this did two things for me. It made me feel better and not so worried and it also worked! They were answered and now I don't have to worry about -what if? My whole family just really needs a fun-filled, worry free summer and I am determined to make that happen.

I was asked to do a few little chats at Cancer Cancer about my experiences. One was for a group of doctors (about 20) and it went really well. They were so interested in what I had to say so that was great! I got some very positive feedback although I was a little nervous. I was able to talk to them about the issues that young adults are faced with specifically. Delay in diagnosis, being too young to have cancer which we all know is not true. I only had about 15 minutes but it ended up being much longer and they asked some really great questions.

I was also asked to speak at the Melanoma Information night last week. I was even more nervous at this one but am finding that sharing my story gets easier each time. In front of a theatre full of melanoma survivors, their families and our medical team I shared my experiences basically in the same way that I write my blog. I had some wonderful people come up to me afterwards and connecting with them was amazing. I remember sitting in that same theatre one year ago wondering where I would be now. Really wondering if one year later I would still be here... So it was really great to be standing there proving that we can beat this horrible disease.
I have been NED (no evidence of disease) for a little over a year and have already outlived the expected survival rates and it feels good.

I am still taking my Mindfullness Based Stress Reduction course and actually find that sometimes it is just too much for me. I skipped last week because I just felt completely overwhelmed with everything and not feeling like being too mindful. I felt angry and full of sadness all at the same time. We lost another friend to this horrible disease. I still can't think of it without tearing up and this intense sadness filling up my heart. I have to believe that he is up there flying, free and happy, not in pain anymore. I will never forget all the laughs and fun that we had, Caio. xoxo
It is not always easy to live in this world full of cancer where you connect at such a deep level with people and then have to say goodbye so soon. I can't imagine, though, going through this experience without that connection.

When I saw my oncologist last week we talked about what happens next. Basically, I get a break from doctors, tests, and scans for the summer. My blood work has bounced right back and is pretty much normal now. All of my scans have been coming back stable. I'm feeling great so now we enjoy the summer! I did talk to him about taking vitamins and supplements and he discourages me from doing this. Apparently there was a study done in which a group of people were given anti-oxidants (which Dr. Oz says is so good against cancer) and the other half were given nothing. The group taking the anti-oxidants had their cancer return much sooner than the group taking nothing. Well, I obviously don't want to be taking anything that is going to cause this to happen so what do I do? There are so many different supplements and vitamins out there that supposedly help your immune system and make you better able to fight this but how do I decide which ones I should be taking? It is all so overwhelming. My oncologist says that I am healthy and young so don't need anything but a healthy, normal diet. I'm really not sure which information to believe and don't have a tonne of money to be throwing around on things that have no merit and that will actually harm me. I'll have to do alot more thinking and reading up about what is best for me.

I have changed my diet quite a bit over the past year and a half; especially being on the Interferon because it made me nauseous most of the time. I do still love my blender and make alot of smoothies. It's amazing how much spinach you can get in there! Add a little pineapple and mango and I feel like I should be on a nice hot beach somewhere! Flax is my new best friend. I put it in everything! Quinoa is my new favorite "rice". It is so yummy and much healthier for you. We planted a big garden this year and can't wait to watch all those fresh veggies and herbs coming up. My goal is to eat as naturally as possible and completely eliminate any processed foods and sugar from my diet.

It feels really great to be able to go for a walk without being completely exhausted and wondering if I will make it back home again!. I have been out walking/running my dog everyday and it's great for both of us. I don't take this gift lightly. I remember a week or so after the brain surgery, I was at the gym with my sisters walking VERY SLOWLY on the treadmill and feeling like I just wanted to run but physically couldn't. I now don't take this for granted. I love the feeling I get when I'm running - Free!

I spent the most amazing day with my cousin, Sheri, a few weeks ago! Let me just say this - I came home revitalized and feeling so good about myself and the feeling hasn't worn off yet. It has given me a boost in self-confidence. (when you are sick this really does get knocked way down) I will never forget this day and am very grateful for it! Thank you!!

I have really been living it up these last few weeks and although life isn't always full of roses, it makes me appreciate them even more when they do come along. These wonderful things that happen to us everyday sometimes get covered by all the bad stuff going on and we don't pay much attention to them. They are there.

Cheers to a beautiful, care-free summer full of fun!!!

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