Saturday, December 31, 2011

New year, new me!

I realise that I havent written a blog entry since well before my actual treatment ended! That milestone is just too important a moment to overlook so I am trying to think back a few weeks now and rehash some of the emotions, thoughts and experiences. It has of course been Christmas and I have therefore been super busy with no moment to spare to write. And when you go to bed as early as me your time is extremely limited with a busy toddler running around.

So since I last wrote I finished 10 months of a long and gruelling treatment cycle, celebrated christmas with my family and managed my first trip outside of Norway in over a year (I dont count Norby in Sweden as another country!). You could say I have been a busy bee. My skin has just started to settle down now and I am sporting quite a dramatic radiotan. I quite enjoy not having to wake up and race out the door every morning for daily sessions but it was quite weird finishing. You would think getting to the end of such an awful year would be relieving however the thing with this cancer business is that relief is often hard to come by. I know everyone will tell me to recognise getting through this hellish ordeal and that is a good thing to be done, however I cant help but feel more terror then calm. When you are going through treatment there is structure and a plan. Every day, week, month there is something to do and the pace is often dizzying. But when this extensive schedule winds down you kind of feel like the control is gone and now you must sit and wait and hope. I do hope everything goes well for me but it can be hard to really truly exhale and stop worrying. I know time makes everything easier so i hope as each month passes I will be able to relax alittle bit more. I do so want to start living again and make plans. I kind of realised I was being wishy washy about plans in the booking a trip to Canada in the summer or starting to look for a job. Why this apprehension? I was already thinking about if something went wrong which is not the way I want to think or live my life. So now I am making plans...lots of them and intend to follow them all the way through. There is no time to waffle over things because I am here and healthy and ready to go. I just need to be reminded of that sometimes as the transition from cancer patient back to me has its challenges.

So with treatment coming to an end, Christmas came to our house and it was wonderful. My daughter who is nearly 2 loved everything about it and it warmed my heart to see the joy in her eyes. It was also nice for my husband and I to put the struggles of the year aside and relax and enjoy ourselves. I love Christmas!

We also just returned from my first trip abroad as mentioned above which was great. A change of environment was just what I needed and I was so happy to get my starbucks fix! We also did a fair bit of indulging which will end at midnight tonight! January is a new year, a new start and a healthier way of living for me and my family.

I will also mention my darling daughter who will be celebraitng her 2nd birthday tomorrow on New Years day. It is hard to believe it has been 2 years since you came into my life. You are already a little lady with a warm heart, infectious giggle and sharp mind. You made me into a better person and you saved my life. In the words of Robert Munsch - "I love you forever, I like you for always. As long as I am living, my baby you will be."

So Happy New Year to everyone! Though it has been a year that literally stretched me to my physical and emotional limits, I am grateful for my new depths of awareness and my ability to really see what is important in my life. Cancer broke me but then I found the strength to put myself together again.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Goodbye 2011

“When you have completed 95% of your journey, you are only half way there.” Japanese proverb.

Hello everyone,

It is OBB checking in with 4 radioactive sunbed sessions to go and feeling decidedly “uncomfortable.” My skin is burnt now and red all over but that is not the worst part – the itching! OMG – it is driving me crazy and I can’t do anything about it. I have literally smothered myself in the one cream I am allowed to use (no fats or oils for me) and staying hydrated but nothing helps and every day it feels worse. Bit annoying for me and I am currently drugging myself in order to be able to fall asleep at night. And I know it will have to get worse before it gets better so I am feeling a little demoralized today! In some ways this is harder than the last round of chemo as I just wasn’t so “uncomfortable” nor were my side effects as visible as this. In addition, having a monkey of a 2 year old running around me when my skin is as fragile as tissue paper makes thing that much more challenging. But I do tell myself that this will all be over soon and I just need to tough it out for that extra bit longer.

So with only 4 days left of my main treatment plan to go, I have been thinking a lot about the last year and also the new one that is just around the corner. Wow it is mind blowing to think about all the things I have done – the fears I have overcome, the strength I never knew I had and the journey I have walked, at times perhaps crawled through. I started the year with cancer in my body moving at a swift speed invading my cells and my body - undetected by anyone or anything. Now 12 months later I am in theory cancer free now and have undergone one the most grueling medical treatments out there. I think the most important thing to remember is that I am here. That is a victory in itself. But in other ways I am fearful of the next 12 months that lie ahead of me. Now that we have done everything we can do to fight this beast in my body, we must now put down our weapons and wait. I of course think positively and want to imagine only the happiest of outcomes but the reality of the situation now is that I am no longer in control. No one is. I need to put faith in my treatment and hope that my body responds the way it needs to and I remain free of this poison passenger. I think in some ways the first year post cancer will be the hardest and often reveals the true personality of your disease. After such a hard year one cannot even fathom the possibility of hearing those three words again and I never ever want to hear them again. Once was more than enough thank you very much. I have so much and so many people to live for. So I must accept my lack of control over the situation and assure myself that I am surely due some good luck. I have never ever felt such a strong desire to be alive in my whole life until now – when there is something that poses a threat to something we often take for granted – you are changed by it. So though it has taken every ounce of courage, bravery and strength to get through the last year, I know it will require even more pink power to get me through the next one. Then, maybe, just maybe I can exhale and breathe a little easier.

Here’s to a year that taught me who I really was and here’s to the coming year that will show me who I can become.


Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Hello everyone,

We are nearly 2 weeks away from Christmas and we finally had some snow fall in Oslo this week. I have always been someone who needed snow at Christmas for it to really feel like the holidays so it is now starting to feel real. The twinkling lights from the windows and trees up and down the streets are one of my favorite things and it is impossible not to feel cozy and warm inside with all the decorations, flickering candles and yummy goodies all around! It is also the first Christmas that my daughter actually knows what is happening and she is awe of it. She held her first snow ball today and didn’t want to let it go no matter how numb her fingers got. Quite a determined young lady! We will be putting up the tree up tonight and I can’t wait to hear her “oohs and ahhs” as the tree comes to life with decorations and lights. It is hard not to feel down at a time of year like this even after the year we have had.

So this week I had my last visitor of 2011 and she didn’t disappoint. My lovely Peeko came to Oslo town for a second visit in less than two months (solid dedication to our friendship I say) and gave Santa a run for his money in the presents department and spoiled all of us rotten as she does. I love having old friends around me as I can just be myself and we can reminisce about life pre-C which is a nice form of escapism for me. I have been so lucky to have amazing friends like Ms Peeko take breaks from their own busy lives and come be with me. I know I don’t live in the most convenient location for visits so those ones who made the trek deserve medals and I have many to award. Since Christmas is also about being thankful and aware of the good and love in our lives – I want to again thank everyone who helped me through this past year. Some of you must be psychic because it seemed like on my worst days I would open my post to see a wonderful care package, get a phone call where I could just vent or have one of you in front of me to just hold my hand through a rough patch. It is so true when they say you never really understand who and what your friends are made of until you hit rock bottom. I am so lucky to have a surplus of love and support in my rich life.

Now onto a treatment update: I am now 8 sessions away from finishing my radioactive sun treatment and it has gone fast. My skin is holding up fairly well and my doctor informed me this week that my reaction was grade 1 bordering on -1 which is good. Finally I luck out on something! I am growing very tired though as each day goes by and finding for the first time since this all began that I truly have limitations. I was a bit demoralized when my doctor informed me he thought it would take me another 6 months to recover from everything! I want to be me again now!! But patience is clearly one of the key cornerstones of Cancer and you need lots of it to get through it. I have some appointments next week to discuss the next steps for me in the New Year which are scary and not things I am looking forward to. However by choosing to live, I must also take on board the burdens that go along with that decision. More to come on that at a later date but as it is Christmas I want to keep it light!
So that is all from me today. I hope everyone is having a wonderful December! And if I can give you any gifts in the form of advice from someone who has been through the ringer – here are a few (I so hope these don’t come out as patronizing or preachy!):

Try to stress less and enjoy more.

Don’t waste precious time arguing with those you love. It just isn’t worth it.

Tell the people who matter – how much they matter to you.

Asking for help is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

Don’t put off doing the things you really want to do because time is your most precious commodity.

When you really feel like you are being tested – don’t fear failure but relish the fact that you are in fact stronger then you ever imagined.

Merry Christmas/ God Jul to everyone!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Sometimes I Get Angry

Hi Everyone,

It has been a busy week for me thereby making blogging updates a bit more challenging to do. Between visitors, my daily radioactive sunbed sessions and a sick child - I guess a bit of real life has been getting in the way but I am here and ready to dish.

So I am officially half through radiation as of this morning and doing alright. I now affectionately refer to it as my radioactive sunbed as it sounds much better – in my mind at least. I can pretend I am working on my “base” for a sun holiday on some exotic island. I can blissfully ignore the fact that I am actually going to the cancer center every morning rather than the Canary Islands and sipping green tea instead of a pina colada! Every day I ask my radiation technicians how my skin is faring as each day it is getting redder, tighter and more sensitive. “Is it more red then most people?” or “Are you sure my skin can handle 13 more times?” I think I always think I am abnormal however I am assured that everything that is happening is completely normal. It is quite like a sunburn and every time I lie there watching the machine swirl around, emitting beeps every now and then… I still expect to feel pain. But of course I don’t. I try and imagine the rays zapping any stubborn c-cells that could be lingering and see the cell imploding on themselves like dead stars do in the sky. Radiation is easier then the C-spa but the daily commute is tough and I am really finding myself lagging in the energy levels.

I am also still struggling with my new pills which are still giving me lots of issues. I saw one of the on call doctors this week to tell them about all my side effects and they told me I had to tough it out! I actually was unlucky enough to get the one doctor who didn’t speak English so the two of us struggled through a broken conversation about my symptoms. I guess my Norwegian is better than I thought as I clearly understand her tough love approach despite the language barrier! But I continually tell myself that I am lucky to be able to take these pills (as not everyone is able to) and they provide another line of defense against my dark enemy.
I am also now sporting a baby Mohawk this week and was able to buy an actual hair product today! It was exciting to say the least and I am now planning on coloring it this weekend. It will feel so good to shed the wig and just be me again.

Aside from that, I have been feeling a different emotion this past week that I don’t tend to feel that often or write about. Through my C-story, I have been careful to control and think about everything I say or feel. I have tried to live each day with courage, positivity and acceptance. I realized early on that I couldn’t focus on my life pre-C or wish I never got cancer because these were things I had no power to change. It would only frustrate me to battle the what if’s so I fought to focus on today. But I am feeling angry these days. If I were to think of my emotion in terms of the Kubler-Ross model – anger seems to be only number 2 in the five part grieving process so it appears I have a ways to go. I had this urge to want to smash a crystal vase a few days ago (though the mother in me even thought against it in my fantasy world as how could I ensure I picked up all the shards so as to not endanger my child!). I have also wanted to scream out into the wind and just let some of this anger go. I am angry at the situation I have been given, I am angry at the challenges that still lie ahead, I am angry at the fact I cannot just focus on being a mother and a wife, I am angry parts of my body have been taken from me and I am angry at all the things that I have been robbed of. I know I can’t change things and I rarely spend energy thinking this way but sometimes just sometimes, I long for that woman…the na├»ve yet fun loving one with the long brown hair, two pert boobs and a big smile who had the world at her finger tips and didn’t know what real suffering meant. I am still that woman – as I am sure many of you will say – but sometimes it just all feels unfair.

So that is a abit of where my head is at this week – just writing about it already makes me feel better and releases some of the tension. The best thing to do is recognize the emotion and then let it go so I am acknowledging and moving on.

Your friend,