Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy Chemo Cancerversary!

Can you believe it?! I can hardly believe it myself that an entire year has passed since I finished my last chemo treatment! Even though I still had 8 more months of infusion treatments to go, the completion of the hard-core chemo was definitely the biggest accomplishment to date! And like many survivors who look back at these milestones and dates, I'm marking this one with a celebratory thumbs up - fo sho!!

Last year at this time, I had some pretty heavy-duty chemo drugs running through the 'ol veins along with some gnarly nausea. I could barely choke down 3 bites of mashed potatoes for a meal and was subject to some pretty bizarre and absurd reality tv as my main source of entertainment. I was bedridden for a full week after that session while I patiently waited for some fuzz to show up on my head.

Fast forward a year later and life is treating me pretty damn good! I may still have some daily nausea from the leftover chemo still running through my veins and my new daily drugs are having me walk like I'm 98, but dang, NOTHING like last year! And on top of all of that, I'm sporting a new head of darker hair! So, damn if I'm not partaking and devouring in some fish tacos, beer and guacamole tonight with friends!

As for the outlandish tv viewing these days, I've seemed to wean myself off of a few of those reality shows. But I must admit, watching them still makes me feel like having cancer for a third time wasn't as bad as those people's lives.

So there you have Cancer #3 - another year, another survivor and a new lease on life! BOOYAH!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Do YOU need a Cancervention?

Not too many months ago, my brother-in-law Nate, sat me down at the dinner table in his house and said "Yog, I think it's time for a cancervention!" Contemplative and serious, he continued -  "We've noticed that you seem to be needing a lot of attention these days. You know, with the boob job and the new hair cut, it just seems that you're trying to make a statement and go to such extremes to get a little extra attention and I'm hear to tell you Yog, we already notice you. We love you, we already think you're great so you don't need to be doing all of this. It's just not necessary."

Pause for reaction, and........BWAHAHAHA!

We both burst out into laughter, clinked our wine glasses (well, juice for me!) and carried on with our game night. Hilarious I thought. A Perfect way to check in with me and make light of an extremely sensitive and serious situation. But it got me to thinking, did I need a cancervention? Do we all need a cancervention? I don't really think so.

Yet, this led my mind down a path and thought process that not only myself but many other of my 'breast friends' and cancer survivors have repeatedly discussed - When will we be over the whole cancer thing? Are we supposed to be over something that threatened our lives? Should we just fold it up and tuck it neatly away while we silently and secretly wait for the other shoe to drop? What happens when the emotions start flooding our hearts and brain? The fear can be gripping if you allow it.

My dad unexpectedly died 15 years ago and I'm still not 'over' that loss. And like cancer, I think of him every day. It definitely gets easier with time, but those emotions still hit me at the heart level. I talk about him a lot like I do cancer. I make life comparisons to him as I do with breast cancer. I strive to gain that balance between moving forward and still processing these huge events in my life. So, as I strive to find meaning and acceptance of my cancer trilogy, I also covet the 'silver linings,' 'takeaways,' 'gems' and hidden treasures' of cancer. After all, I have an appointment with life as Thich Nhat Hanh says. Sounds simple enough, right?! And if suffering leads to understanding and eventual transformation into healing and well-being, then sign me up!

So the moral to this cancervention story is this - life after cancer remains uncertain. We are not guaranteed a cure but are merely promised a 'remission' (I'll take it!). Re-entry back into life 'A.C.' (After Cancer) is not always that smoothe but trying to plan and figure things out is the 'Booby prize' as my mother would say (pun intended). But like any animal, I suppose I will simply lick my wounds and stay present so that I can discover the new magic in life with my new normal.

And so it is.