Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Second Chance

Well, time has been flying by around here it seems like. Being back to work has been fantastic. We are finally able to find our routine and I realize how much I missed this. Jeff and I have never both worked a Monday to Friday job at the same time so it has been really nice to have every week night and weekend together as a family. I have been feeling great and am actually surprised at the energy I have. This is the best I have felt in over two years and I am thankful every day when I wake up that I have this energy. I was driving to work on Tuesday remembering what a Tuesday on Interferon felt like. I would wake up feeling exhausted, nauseous & achey all over and it took everything for me just to get out of bed and get the kids off to school. As soon as they were out the door I was heading back to bed for a nap. Tuedays were always horrible because having had the weekend off the Interferon, I think it was a shock once again to my system when I injected that dose Monday night. So I drove to work last Tuesday feeling full of gratitude for being able to get up with energy, ready to start my day.

I have been reflecting alot on the past two years and still have trouble letting things all sink in. It really does feel almost like a dream. Like none of this could have really happened. Brain surgery, gamma knife, 2 lung surgeries, a year on Interferon which took me one and a half years, needles, a PICC line, biopsies and scans... and the hardest test of all - always waiting for someone to tell me what the results were. Was the surgery successful? Did the treatment work?(this we will never know) Is it cancer? Is there more cancer? How far has it spread? What's the plan? These are all questions that have flown through my mind almost constantly through the past couple of years. I love now having these questions replaced with - What should I make for supper tonight? What are we going to do this weekend? What am I going to wear to work tomorrow?

Of course, it's not like cancer has disappeared from my mind completely but I am on somewhat of a break from the constant thoughts which have been on my mind for the past 2 years. For a long time, I couldn't even think about the future. I had to stay focused on the here and now. If I looked too far ahead I would get a sick feeling in my stomach as I wondered whether or not I would be here still. It's fun now for Jeff and I to talk about taking off somewhere hot next winter for a holiday or planning renovations on our house or where we are going to go for our summer holidays. These are all things that we couldn't discuss before and I couldn't picture for a long time ever being able think about again.

I was surprised a few weeks ago when we were in the dressing room just after Kaden's hockey game and he says to me, "Mom, really bad things happen on Friday the 13th. I sure hope your cancer doesn't come back". It took me back and I wasn't sure how to respond but reassured him that I feel great and it being Friday the 13th wasn't going to make my cancer come back. Wow! What goes through his little mind really surprises me sometimes. So although it's maybe not on the top of all of our minds right now, it is still there.

My mom was telling me that when she went out for lunch the other day there was an elderly mother and her daughter sitting at the table beside them. The daughter was telling her mother about a piano recital which would be taking place in the Spring and she was inviting her to come along. She says to her mother "Maybe you would like to come and see it if you're still alive then." My mom was shocked that she would say this to her mother but laughed at them having a sense of humour about death. I can totally relate to this only it would be me saying "Yes, that would be lovely. If I'm still here in a couple of months I would love to join you". When things get really tough and tense it relieves this feeling if you can laugh about it. My mom and I were at the store picking out "Thank you" cards and this was just before my brain surgery. My eyes drifted down to the "Thank you for your sympathies" cards so I picked out the ones that I liked the most and pointed them out to my mom "just in case" I said to her laughing. We both got a good laugh. I guess you had to be there because reading this now it just sounds plain weird. But I really feel that I would rather laugh about it then cry about it. So this is just how my family deals I guess.

I started a Zumba class a few weeks ago and even though I am totally uncoordinated and out of shape I absolutely love it! I love that I can do it (or somewhat flailing around on the gym floor doing my own thing more or less) but that I can actually, physically move. Cancer treatments drained the life out of me and now I feel that life pouring back into me and it feels like nothing I have ever felt before. Before cancer I took all of this for granted. During my Interferon treatments many times I would dance around my room with the music blaring and would collapse on my bed totally exhausted but happy. Something so simple and it's one of the things that got me through that year. So it feels great to be able to move and I will never take this for granted again. I really missed it on the days that I was stuck in bed recovering from a surgery or with my head throbbing from Interferon.

I have also been trying alot of different at home excerise DVD's my favorite so far is a walking program using resistance bands. Love it and feel like I've had a great work out afterward. I have learned alot about how much excerise can help fight off disease of all kinds - especially cancer and I just feel so much better and full of energy when I've had a good workout. I also attribute my new found energy boost to my every morning green smoothie habit. Spinach, swiss chard or kale; some frozen fruit, a little water and I'm good to go. Sometimes I add a little almond butter or flax seed or agave, depending on what I feel like. I have been paying special attention to my diet and this is really helping me to feel healthy and hopefully will help my body stay healthy.

I think often of all of my friends going through their cancer treatments and although I'm through the tough stuff for now I don't forget what it's like. I felt many times that it would never be over, that I would be feeling that horrible forever. There didn't seem to be an end in sight and the only end that I could see was a terrifying one. This is why it is so hard to believe that I have come out the other side feeling this way. My wish for anyone going through cancer is that you keep hoping and dreaming of a healthy life, that you can stay positive most of the time (I think that it is unrealistic and unhealthy to be completely positive 24/7), that you believe in yourself and in what you can accomplish and that you can surround yourself with loving, caring people who will help you to get through all the tough stuff.

I will be enjoying every minute of the next five weeks feeling very grateful for this second chance!





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