Sunday, December 23, 2012

365 days later...

Well again time has flown by and it has been nearly a month since my last post (i swear I started my last two posts with nearly the exact same sentence!). Now i remember why it was so hard for me to write for so many years...or maybe it was the ridiculous amounts of white wine I consumed in my 20s! :) Regardless, normal life has again gotten in the way of the creative process. I have been working harder then I ever have in my life or maybe it feels that way because I am so out of practice. But I literally work straight all day with hardly a moment to eat, and forget about updating my facebook status or texting someone back - I was hopeless before but now I am truly a lost cause. Despite the insane schedule, I think things are going generally well, though the fear of failure remains a huge mental barrier that I am work through every day. I literally "feel" my stress when something bad happens - my scalp tingles and my stomach jumps. It is wearing but I just keep plugging away.

Yesterday was my one year anniversary of finishing treatment. I can´t believe 365 days have gone by since my last trip to radiation. It feels like it just happened a few months ago but in other ways it also feels like ages ago. I think back to that girl...I say girl because there was this fragility about me then. I had ridiculously short hair that looked weird and made me feel ugly, my radiation burns were awful and made everything uncomfortable, I felt terrible from hormone therapy, I was terrified for the future and all its uncertainty and I felt like I had been pushed off a cliff. Generally all fairly crap things.  Fast forward a year later and that girl is just a shadow to me. I actually managed to make a little ponytail today which was a huge hair milestone to achieve. I have more confidence in myself and what I am capable of doing. And more important then anything else is that my life is no longer consumed by cancer. At dinner parties I can talk about my job and the challenges that come with it. With friends I can join in and complain about the difficulties of balancing motherhood and work. And everyone is telling me, despite the fact I am shattered from work, that I have never looked better and I have so much more energy. These are absolutely fabulous things and they have allowed me to move on. I still carry these scars, both inside and out, but I have proven to myself that I am more then them.

But of course this blog mainly centers around the cancer question, so I will give you all an update on that front as it never really ends despite the fact i don´t always mention everything. December did not go by without its share of dramas - an odd rash and one punch hole biopsy later - no cancer detected! Yippee!! I actually cant believe how non chalant I am about all of this stuff these days. I actually felt relieved it was just a tiny skin biopsy rather then a gigantic needle piercing my rib cartillage. Amazing what becomes the better option to me! And you know what - I just did it, on my own, and marched straight back to work as if nothing had happened. I did finally manage to ask my doctor the question I had been avoiding or perhaps been to scared to ask - what was my long term outlook? I told him I felt silly asking about it so late in the game. However I needed to for my own sanity as everytime I told them about something, I was immediately marched in for a biopsy, scan or bloodtest. Nothing was nothing in my case. And more worrying was that my other friends in this world did not seem to be on the same high vigilance plan. I just blurted out "Is there something I need to be worried about?" Of course I know there are bad things about my prognosis but I can´t change them and things could most definitely be worse.  I told him I was so grateful for the quick reactions and excellent care I got (and was by no means complaining about it) but I also couldn´t help being anxious about how nothing was nothing. I actually initially thought this rash by my scar was nothing (and it did indeed end up being nothing) but then I realised that everything in the cancer quadrant needed to be checked. But anyways back to my question and his subsequent response - "Well there is the combination of this and that, that is not ideal but  you have a better percentage chance of being okay then not." Hmmm...where do we go with that. Somehow the way those words came out didn´t entirely calm me. But then after i left, I realised that I am nearly 2 years past my initial diagnosis and we have not detected any relapse. That is AMAZE-BALLS! But I still am afraid - afraid of dealing with all this uncertainty for the next 3 more years. Does it get better? Does cancer became smaller and smaller like when you are waving goodbye to someone in the car and you keep waving until they become tiny and tiny and then eventually drift completely out of sight? How long will I be waving out my  window? I have a big month coming up in January - my 33rd birthday and also another PET scan. I am hoping that my belated birthday gift will be a clear scan report. I just dont want to go through everything that happened back in October - it was dreadful, draining and terrifying. So I am thinking positive, although hoping for a negative if you know what I mean. I will be okay - I have to be. There is no other choice. Besides my diary is just too jam packed to make any room for any malignant monkey business.

Happy holidays and have a wonderful New Year everyone!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dual identities

Again time has escaped me and the weeks have flown by again. I am now 6 weeks into work and I am feeling it. I have been through many different emotions and feelings since i  last wrote - sheer exhaustion, panic, fear, elation, pride, self doubt...The list goes on and on. One thing I have realised is that I have changed since I was last in the working world and there is definitely a period of adjustment occuring right now. Not only is my body and mind adjusting to a full time job in Norwegian, but I am also working for the first time with a little person and husband to look after too. I think she was feeling the stress of our daily schedule this week and called time on Tuesday evening. Being a working mom is tough and I definitely feel those all too familiar pangs of guilt when I show up a few minutes before closing time at daycare and see my little angel playing with the staff as all other kids have gone home. Of course she loves the attention and tells me she wants to stay there but it makes me feel bad too. We mothers have really got feeling guilty down to an artform.

My work continues to be stressful and I am quickly realising that in my role, I wont be winning any popularity contests anytime soon. I really wish I could be one of those people who could just shrug off the stress of the day at the door or not be bothered by something someone says or does. Gosh darnit I still want people to like me and think I am doing a good job! All of this makes for a delicate, if not dangerous balance to juggle and at times I feel like I have dropped all the balls in one go.

There have been of course achievements and milestones over the past few weeks. I have realised that I do in fact still have a functioning brain and hidden reserves of energy to call upon in those bleak moments at 6am in when it is pitch black and -17 out! I feel my identity shifting and the girl with cancer is becoming a weak shadow in the background. I am getting reacquainted with myself again - the parts of me that had lain dormant over the past few years. I am not a lost cause which is good to know. This old dog still has some new tricks in her yet! But with this revival, I am also noting the ways I have changed too in these last few years. I am slightly less self assured and comfortable with myself. I am not the cocky girl in a power suit and killer heels that does not take no for an answer. Instead I am slightly more humble, if not self conscious of what I am doing, saying and how I look. I swear I feel that my altered anatomy is so obvious to everyone or that my freak show hair cut right now must reveal my inner secret? But it seems like I am perhaps my toughest critic. When I started this blog, I created this alter ego to fight cancer and now I think I am actually living as Supergirl has done. By day I am a normal woman with a normal job and a family to look after, but at other times, I put on my cape and mask and jump right back in to the fight against malignancy. I do sometimes forget about that other world which says alot as I never seemed capable of escaping it the last 2 years. I actually have real moments when I forget I have had cancer. Breakthrough I think! But then there are the little not so gentle reminders that pull me back into that fragile world - the pill I take every single night to keep tumours at bay, the pain the throbs incessantly across my chest and the check ups and tests that seem to come up too soon and too often. I actually had one of my many check ups a week or so ago. Sitting in that waiting room surrounded by "cancer", I didnt like it one bit and I struggled when I left to let that other world go and submerse myself back into my other identity as if nothing had happened. Supergirl must have been one hell of an actor concealing emotions and experiences within each of her identities and worlds. I struggle with this daily and still wrestle with the thought of coming clean. Explaining everything but then I risk losing my free pass to Normalville and I just dont think i want to give that up. And for what? Sympathy? An easier road? People doubting my ability to handle it? I think i am tough enough to weather this storm and allow my car to serve as my telephone booth where my two worlds can collide. And in the words of Miss Kelly Clarkson, " What doesn´t kill you makes you stronger"!

In other news, it is nearly one year since I finished my main treatment! Hip hoorah I am still here and as far as I am concerned cancer free! Time has really flown by and I hope as each year passes, the stress and anxiety will diminish each time until I get to that moment when I can think...hey I am cured. How nice would that be? I am hoping for an early retirement from the world of superheroes and perhaps a nice beach bungaloo next door to Superman. :)