Thursday, October 15, 2015
This post isn't a part of my 365 Things to Smile About blog but that doesn't mean there isn't something to smile about. Just that this entry is a little more serious and a little more reflective. Today, Oct. 15, is two years since my last chemo treatment. That thought alone is a pretty happy and exciting one to have! But other thoughts come to mind as well and I am learning to acknowledge them, voice them and then try to let them go. I have been pushing down a lot of thoughts and feelings when it comes to my cancer because I feel like it shouldn't be affecting me anymore and I am afraid that is what other people are thinking too.
The thing is, it is still affecting me. Maybe not as directly in some ways. I'm not spending the night hopped up on steroids knowing that a horrible crash off of them and the week long plus feeling of being horribly sick looms before me. But that memory is still so fresh in my mind. That feeling of total lack of control, fear, anxiety, not knowing what is going to happen next. It was a strange feeling two years ago. I was dreading the recovery and not quite acknowledging how long that was going to take and at the same time I could also see life finally opening up in front of me. Painfully slowly but it was opening up. I remember being afraid of moving forward. Afraid of not being able to and afraid of failing if I tried. And I was so scared that I wouldn't make it to a happy ending. That the cancer was never really going to go away. To be honest, that fear is still with me sometimes.
Despite all that, here I am two years later finishing my last year of grad school and planning to start my internship next summer. Then, God Willing, a job doing the work I love! I have been told by my parents and friends that I have come a long way and they can see the difference. And I can't argue that. Two years ago my biggest plans were pulling myself out of bed long enough to watch NCIS that week...which didn't happen. Last year I was getting over an almost three week long bout with the flue because I had pushed too hard and was reorganizing my grad school schedule because of it. But I was living on my own again and was going to school for a career I have fallen head over heals in love with! And now this year, I am still in school and learning to pace myself. I can finally drive the two hours to my parent's house alone. I couldn't do that this time last year much less two years ago. I walk a lot more than I use to. Grateful to have my younger brother encouraging me in a walk challenge we are doing together. So yeah, I guess if I look back I can see the changes and can see how far I have come. I just feel like it isn't far enough sometimes.
I guess part of my struggle is accepting the "new normal" that comes after cancer. And I have to be honest and add in the menopause too. I know I am on HRT's which help with some of the symptoms but it doesn't make them go away. I still get hot flashes (and sometimes cold flashes). I still have days that no matter what I do I am tired all day long. I still have problems controlling my emotions. Aches and pains that come and go in places I never had them before. And don't get me started on my memory. Nothing is severe...all minor. But added up over time it gets very frustrating and I often find myself wondering if it will ever get completely better. On top of which I have stopped counting the number of times my doctors felt the need to remind me that on top of everything I have gone through that I am not young anymore. Almost 36 and I am hearing that. I still can't wrap my mind around that.
Today is just a strange day for me mentally and emotionally. I am happy that I didn't have to have chemo today and I haven't for two years. I am sad when I think of what's changed in my life that can't ever change back. I'm scared of what might happen in the future. But I am also grateful that I made it through with no complications and am able to be where I am today. I am grateful for the people who stood by me and supported me and still do today. And I am determined to do as much as I can in whatever time I have left here. Short or long, I want to make a difference somehow. And I don't want to be scared. I know I can't make all the difficult emotions go away over night but I think that maybe...it's getting a little bit better each year.
So I am looking forward to next year! Next October 15 I will be done with school, dual certified; a Masters diploma next to my Bachelors on the wall. I will have a job in my field and starting to hopefully settle down around friends back home in Virginia. I know God laughs when we make plans but I'm willing to accept it if His plans are different from mine right now. But until He lets me in on them I think I'll continue in this direction. Keep moving forward and trust in Him. Counting each day and making each day count.