Friday, March 23, 2012

Loss and Living

It's been a while since I last posted and this is for two reasons. The first is because I've been busy with life. Enjoying my family, spending lots of time at the rink as hockey winds down for the season, getting out and loving this spring weather that we've been having. The other reason is that I am not quite sure what to say. My YACC family has experienced several losses over the past month. Young, vibrant, adults once full of life whose lives have been taken much too soon by this damn disease. Some of these people I only briefly connected with and others more so. I feel a loss everytime I receive an email letting me know about another friend. It's been something I've thought alot about. Is it better to not put myself out there and connect with others so that I don't have to feel the hurt when they leave us? I always come to the same conclusion - my life is better having met them. I learn from others experiences. It helps me with my own. Maybe someone elses perspective makes sense to me and changes my own. I have realized that I just need a way to cope with this loss. I need to do something with it. I've been trying really hard to not think too much about it, try not to feel it but guess what? It's still there and not going anywhere! It's all part of being caught up in the cancer world.

Of course when you're thinking about death it won't be long until you start thinking about you're own - especially if you have cancer. There are so many layers of feelings there. Feelings of sadness, empathy, fear, guilt.... I've been reading many of my friends' words expressing all of these feelings which tells me that I'm not alone with these feelings. The fact that I feel this way is a normal part of this cancer experience. And this is when I really realize how important these connections are to me. It makes me feel a part of a bigger world, makes me feel like I'm not the only one, like what I'm going through is normal. And if there's one thing that us cancer survivors want to feel - it's normal! So to Adam, Andreanne & Julie - you will always be in our hearts. We will remember you and hold on to the good memories that were made in Ottawa. To all of my fellow cancer warriors and support super heros - we are all in this together and can look to each other for support and understanding. We can lean on others "that get it" and find ways to cope with the hard feelings together. I send my love to you all. xoxo

A couple of weeks ago was our girls' night out - Brain MRI & dinner. Every 3 months I go for a brain MRI and this has turned into our regular girls' night out. My mom, sisters and I head over to the hospital for my MRI and then usually go for dinner and drinks after. This time we went for the MRI then out for dinner and decided to go bowling. It was Friday night after all! It was a really fun night and I love the fact that I am never voted Designated Driver. A perk of being the one with cancer!! So thankful to have such a great mom & sisters that are always there for me and make going through these tests and procedures fun! So during my MRI I try to meditate and not let my imagination run wild but this never works. Focus on your breathing I keep repeating to myself. Instead I couldn't help but wonder if the three people in the booth behind the glass windows could read my mind. Would certain areas of my brain light up or something and show them what I'm thinking about? Could they see my thoughts? So I spent the whole rest of my time in the MRI trying to keep my thoughts clean and rated PG. This actually worked and made the time go by super quick. Note to self - I really need to come up with some better ways to pass the time while I'm in there.

So I assumed, because I didn't hear otherwise, that my brain MRI came back once again as stable. So, on Wednesday when I got home from work and Jeff & I played the message on the answering machine that said, "Hi Natalie - it's gammaknife calling. You can just give us a call back at your earliest convenience @ ***-****" I was a little anxious but reassured myself that it's been a couple of weeks. They are just calling to let me know that it's stable, which has been the case for the past 2 years. So I call back and of course everyone's gone home for the day so I leave a message. Jeff and I aren't worried and are sure that it's fine. I went to work yesterday and after not hearing back from them by 11:00 I decide to give them a call. I hear the words that I am always afraid to hear. "Something has shown up on your scan." Shit!! Seriously? You are kidding me? No, unfortunately not. OK like she's going to say, Yep. Just kidding! You're fine. Have a nice day! OK, where is it? Is it in the same place as the last one? Now what?

So after a lengthy conversation I find out that I have a tumour on my pons. (Kaden thinks that word is so funny - pons. He's 7. He laughs hysterically when you say it.) This spot wasn't seen on my last scan so we've caught it very early and it is only 3 mm small. It is actually no where near the first brain tumour which was higher up in the brain. The plan is to do Gamma Knife Surgery again which they have already booked for me on April 11th. I was obviously shocked at this news but like I said to my nurse, I was hoping to never have a recurrence in the brain again but knew that it was certainly a possibility. I decided to take off from work early for the day so my sister came out to pick me up. My first instinct was to get out of there before I started crying or something. (Now, that would be horrible) Too late! Thank goodness the girl I work with is very understanding and sweet! Jeff got home as quickly as he could and we all had a little pow wow at mom and dad's. It's almost like we need to group together and feel united to figure out our plan of action.

And so here we go once again... I feel grateful that I have had the past few months to live normally, to enjoy life. I am grateful to have such a loving family. I am grateful that this tumour can be treated. My doctor is confident that we can get it with Gamma Knife. My kids are amazing and I see that we can really learn from them. My 10 year old said last night,"No problem Mom. I am not worried at all. This one is nothing!" I am grateful for an amazing husband who reassures me that everything is going to be alright. I am grateful for a wonderful boss who called me last night to let me know that they've got my back and are there for me. I am grateful for a whole community of others with cancer that I have connected with - both young adults and my melanoma friends.

Another reminder for me to live life to its fullest and not to take even one minute for granted. xoxo

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